First steps towards a European immunomonitoring platform
An innovative project to speed up drug development, focused on monitoring human immune response, is now operational at Lyonbiopôle’s new infectiology centre. Around a dozen pharmaceutical experts from industry and academia staff its state-of-the-art laboratory.
“We are very pleased to see a project shared by experts in the field of immunology reinforcing the expertise and the image of our cluster.”
Yves Laurent, General Director of Lyonbiopôle
The Platine project seeks to create Europe’s first immunomonitoring platform, to better characterise the effect on the immune system of new therapeutic molecules discovered by researchers. Goals include meeting the needs of biotechnology companies and the pharmaceutical industry, and ultimately the European market.
Many therapies will soon have to be assessed on the initial immunological status of patients and/or their immunomodulatory effects. However, Europe has no industry centre capable of performing efficient and global immunomonitoring follow-up – a service that would enable the rapid discarding of any molecule that poses a risk to patients and allow pharmaceutical companies to concentrate resources on the most promising compounds.
Platine pools the techniques and scientific knowledge of five partners, with a view to creating centralised, robust and reproducible immunomonitoring services. Three partners – Innate Pharma, Transgene SA, and ImmunID – are from the industrial world, with expertise in drug development and immunomonitoring and diagnostics. The other two are academic research labs from Inserm (the French National Institute for Health and Medical Research) and the Léon Bérard Multidisciplinary Centre. The project’s total cost is €4.8 million. In addition to the EU funding (€ 450000), it benefits from French national and regional funding.
In April 2009, teams from the various partners moved into the Lyonbiopôle. They work in a special laboratory fitted with sophisticated equipment.
The partners aim to create a commercial structure able to offer high-quality immunomonitoring services to pharmaceutical companies. This would speed up each drug's development process while cutting down costs. Work is based on three tools adapted to sponsors’ needs: innovative and traditional technology, scientific assessment, and the development of new biomarkers.
The project has two phases, starting with immunomonitoring of clinical trials of partners’ drug candidates and then molecules from French and European companies. In between, the scientific team will build a comprehensive range of immunomonitoring and biomarker discovery services.