At the 24th i-Lab competition on July 4, 2022, prizes were awarded to 78 winners chosen from among 396 applications. This event is organized by Bpifrance and financed by the “Programme d’investissement d’avenir” (Investments for the Future Program). It was launched in 1999 by the Ministry responsible for Research. It has two objectives – to detect and develop business creation projects based on innovative technologies and promote the transfer of research results to the socio-economic sector.
This year, out of the 10 Grands Prix awarded by the panel, five were attributed to companies in the healthcare industry.
A drug candidate that has already been demonstrated using an animal model, is being developed for Huntington’s disease by CURE-HD, to restore motor capacities and prevent the onset of psychiatric problems. This pathology is the result of a mutation in the gene coding for the Huntingtin protein. This protein is important for transporting the neuronal survival factor, BDNF, between the two structures of the brain that are impaired by the illness – the cortex and the striatum. The mutation impairs the transport of BDNF, which leads to the death of the neurons in these two areas. CURE-HD has identified a key enzymatic reaction which regulates this transport and which is impaired by mutant huntingtin. The company has successfully developed a drug candidate that inhibits this enzymatic reaction, thus restoring the transport of BDNF between the neuronal cells of the cortex and the striatum to normal levels.
Phagos, a company established in 2021, proposes a sustainable alternative to antibiotics designed to combat resistant bacteria. In 2019, these bacteria resulted in the deaths of 1.3 million people and could be responsible for the deaths of more people than cancer by 2050. Phagos’s technology is used to channel the natural predator of bacteria, the bacteriophage. Today, it is primarily intended for the livestock industry. A phage therapy specific to the characteristics and needs of each environment is produced by the company and sent to the aquaculture farmer. This can be used not only prophylactically, but also as a remedy in the event of infectious peaks.
Revival Bionics aims to fully compensate for the disability of people with lower limb amputations or paralysis by developing cutting-edge technologies in biomechatronics. Its propulsive bionic foot prosthesis could replace the missing limb of a person amputated below the knee, whilst at the same time reducing the development of back and joint pathologies to a minimum. As a result the patient will be able to resume physical activity, and thus avoid the risk of developing comorbidities.
Twinical offers surgical planning and navigation software to be used in the treatment of patients with liver cancer. Developed in collaboration with the Paul Brousse Hospital, in Villejuif, near Paris, the software will be compatible with various medical imaging reconstruction solutions and operating theater equipment. It will ensure that operations can be planned by carrying out virtual hepatectomies in the preoperative phase, and improve surgical precision by digitally increasing intraoperative vision. The software can be used during open, minimally invasive or percutaneous surgery, and may shorten the length of any operations, improve postoperative outcomes and reduce the recurrence rate by improving the quality of the resection margins and invisible tumor resection with current surgical exploration methods.
V4 Cure has developed a biomedicine from snake venom to treat renal pathologies. The peptide V4C-232 is a derivative of a snake toxin, which is a powerful and selective antagonist of the vasopressin type 2 receptor (V2R), which regulates the hydric balance of the body. V4 Cure uses it to treat Autosomal Dominant Polycystic Kidney Disease (ADPKD), the most frequent monogenic kidney disease. “The V4 Aqua project has already allowed us to demonstrate the safety and efficacy of V4C-232 in different experimental models in vivo. i-lab support will enable us to finalize regulatory preclinical pharmacology studies of V4C-232 required for phase I clinical trial applications in humans,” Sonia Escaich stated.