TOMORROW’S HEALTHCARE: IN NANTES, BIOTECH FIRMS ENJOY AN ECOSYSTEM CONDUCIVE TO RESEARCH

GoLiver Therapeutics, CleanCells, Graftys and more. These Nantes-based biotech firms are making headlines, standing out through their capacity to innovate. The first research projects put forward by the I-site NExT scheme illustrate tomorrow’s development potential for the biotech industry and regenerative medicine in Nantes.


New fundraising for Xénothéra

In the Nantes urban area, biotherapies and regenerative medicine form two priority fields of excellence. Recent news has revealed the dynamic underway. As this year began, the start-up Xénothéra completed its fourth round of fundraising. Resulting from a spin-off of the Nantes-based ITUN (institute for transplantation, urology and nephrology), this start-up specialises in new treatments in transplantation and other fields of therapy.

GoLiver and its treatment for regenerating the liver

Another Nantes-based start-up—GoLiver Therapeutics—has been winning awards. Resulting from a spin-off of INSERM (French national institute of health and medical research) and the University of Nantes, it was recently selected for the event France Tech Transfer Invest (FFTI) 2019 and will take part in the European Venture Summit in Dusseldorf. GoLiver Therapeutics is behind an innovative treatment for regenerating the liver. Made through in vitro production of billions of stem cells, the treatment is designed to eventually replace liver transplants. GoLiver is in the process of raising three million euros in funding.

CleanCells and anti-bacteria viruses

In the field of bioproduction, CleanCells recently took over BE Vaccines, strengthening its position in the market of phage-therapy products. This therapy uses bacteriophages—natural viruses that kill bacteria—to treat certain infectious diseases and therefore get around the global phenomenon of resistance to antibiotics. Through this takeover, the workforce of CleanCells has grown by 143 people.

Graftys, the bone-cement specialist

Aware of the dynamic in Nantes regarding tomorrow’s healthcare, Graftys recently opened a subsidiary in Nantes. A specialist in bone cements for reconstructive orthopaedic surgery, the new Nantes branch of Graftys (twenty-five employees) will work on the design and pre-production of cements combined with peptides or small molecules. Holding several patents, Graftys sells its products in more than twenty countries. To boost this new phase of development, the firm recently completed a round of fundraising that drew 4.1 million euros.

Atlanpole Biotherapies, a catalyst for healthcare projects

Overall, biotech firms are developing robustly in Nantes. This can be seen in the successful rounds of fundraising completed in 2018 by the biotech firm Valneva (50 million eruos) and by Horama (22.5 million euros), a promising Nantes-based company specialising in gene therapy for retina diseases. All these initiatives have emerged in Nantes thanks to support from the business hub Atlanpole Biotherapies. This cluster, which already includes 130 member firms, encourages and assists the emergence of start-ups in healthcare. Since its creation in 2005, over seventy-five collaborative projects in innovation have received backing from Atlanpole Biotherapies for a total amount of 700 million euros.

Healthcare research in Nantes strengthened by I-Site NExT

Research in healthcare is speeding up in Nantes. It is structured through NExT, a project that was given the ‘I-Site’ label  in 2017 and that distinguishes internationally oriented universities. This project, led by four main founders (Ecole Centrale, University of Nantes, Nantes University Hospital and INSERM) has already brought together 330 national and international researchers in units in fundamental biology and clinical research.

The aim of the NExT project is to speed up Nantes-based research, training and technology transfer to reach a better level of synergy between universities and organisations. The NExT project enjoys a total budget of fifty-eight million euros over three years (including thirty-nine million euros from the French state) to boost Nantes’ world standing in tomorrow’s healthcare.

Among research projects recently launched as part of NExT, there is HéMA-NExT, a research hub specialising in therapies for blood diseases (multiple myeloma and lymphomas). This should give rise to one of the world’s top research and training centres in onco-haematology in Nantes, a city that is already renowned internationally for research in oncology.

Another project, the research cluster SysMics, endorsed by I-Site NExT, works on systemic medicine. This medicine should become a new standard in public health, no longer focussed on taking care of patients at an advanced stage of a disease, but on introducing preventive strategies tailored to individual profiles to act before a disease—including cancer—occurs. SysMics already brings together most Nantes-based research units in digital technology, healthcare and biology, as well as biotech firms.

© Photos Inserm / Etienne Begouen - Patrick Delapierre