In the pathophysiology of neurological diseases such as stroke, multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s disease as well as other neurodegenerative disorders, one endogenous protease called tissue plasminogen activator (tPA) triggers off-target toxicity via the hyperactivation of NMDA receptors (NMDAr) present on vascular endothelial cells, causing the disruption of the blood-brain barrier (BBB) and the transmigration of inflammatory cells to the brain parenchyma. By blocking this interaction between tPA and NMDAr, Glunozumab® is preventing the induced neuroinflammation, neurotoxicity and BBB leakage, while restoring the NMDAr functioning to its physiological levels. This unique mechanism of action implies that Glunozumab® does not need to cross the BBB to act on the central nervous system, which is a distinctive feature for the treatment of neurological diseases.
Lys Therapeutics has its offices located both in Normandy and in Rhône-Alpes, in Caen and Lyon respectively. The entrepreneurial project was born following a “wonderful meeting with an world-renown academic team in Normandy,” sums up Manuel Blanc, co-founder and CEO of the company. This academic team is headed by Professor Denis Vivien, a university professor and hospital practitioner (PU-PH), scientific director of the Blood and Brain Institute @Caen-Normandie and chairman of the biotech scientific advisory board. In Caen, Lys Therapeutics is located in the premises of the Institute and has access to its laboratories and teams, “an agile method to work fast and perform high quality R&D studies” underlined Philippe Dujardin, co-founder and Chief Financial Officer of Lys Therapeutics.
The antibody was first developed by the team of Pr. Denis Vivien as a research tool, before discovering its obvious therapeutic effects in stroke and in multiple sclerosis. The molecule was then patented, and the professor asked Manuel Blanc, formerly Sanofi, to help him for its clinical development.
“Glunozumab demonstrates a mechanism of action which is unique in the world for the treatment of neurodegenerative and neurovascular diseases, an area where the medical needs are unfortunately very important, and for which few treatments are available. Our molecule is non-invasive, non-intrusive and non-toxic, and unlike its competitors, the great benefit of this antibody is that it does not need to cross the blood-brain barrier to act on the central nervous system”, Dr. Manuel Blanc, co-founder and CEO of Lys Therapeutics.
At the beginning of March 2022, the startup signed an agreement for three years with the Blood and Brain Institute (INSERM, Caen-Normandy University Hospital (CHU) and University of Caen) for joint research on stroke and multiple sclerosis. This partnership aims to generate new pre-clinical data to prepare the design of future clinical studies on Glunozumab.
In July 2021, the young biotech received a 600,000 euros grant as winner (“Grand Prix”) of the prestigious i-Lab innovation competition for its drug candidate Glunozumab.
After its first seed-fund round in 2021, Lys Therapeutics is now preparing to launch a series-A round.
For Lys Therapeutics, “participating to BIO International Convention is a significant source of opportunities, in particular for forming collaborations and partnerships with other pharmaceutical companies for the development of our product, thanks to dedicated partnering meetings. It’s an occasion to showcase the project, the science behind it, and our unique positioning in the world of neurology,” in the view of Dr. Manuel Blanc, CEO.