Published on 12.03.2021
CILIA program: treating ciliopathies with a systemic and personalized approach
Ciliopathies are a large family of genetic diseases whose common feature is a dysfunction of the primary cilia, a kind of antenna present on many cells of the body. They can affect the functioning of several organs, particularly the kidneys and the eyes. One of them, nephronophthisis, is the leading genetic cause of end-stage renal disease in children and young adults. Without curative treatment, patients suffer rapid deterioration of kidney function, but also irreversible damage to the retina and/or growth and cognitive deficits. The medical stakes associated with these pathologies are therefore major.
Involved for 6 years in the field of ciliopathies with renal and ocular damage, the founders of Medetia, Jean-Philippe Annereau and Luis Briseno-Roa, aim to develop therapeutic molecules to treat these pathologies, thanks to their specialized expertise and a new approach based partly on artificial intelligence.
Medetia: combining biological expertise, small molecules and artificial intelligence
To hope to treat patients, it is necessary to either compensate for the defect in the gene responsible for the disease using biological molecules such as gene therapy vectors, or to restore the defective mechanisms through "small molecules". Medetia believes in this second approach. At the Imagine Institute, the start-up has cellular models that exist nowhere else. They allow the reproduction of the disease and the condensation of its characteristics in order to test molecules capable of acting on a precise mechanism and restoring cellular functions. Medetia has moreover identified a first lead molecule for nephronophthisis, MDT-110, validated at the level of a preclinical in vitro and in vivo cellular model, patented in 2017, following research work conducted by Dr. Sophie Saunier's laboratory. Therapeutic trials could start in 2024.
In addition to these cutting-edge biological expertises, Medetia knows how to federate complementary expertises to develop research assisted by artificial intelligence (AI), for the quantification of renal lesions at the cellular level, on microscopy test with Perkin-Elmer, on histological sections with QuantaCell, and for the design of new chemical compounds optimized by AI with Iktos.
An ecosystem of research and innovation
Medetia was the first start-up to be hosted on the Imagine Institute's Lab-in-labs platform, which allows it to benefit from unique expertise and preclinical models on ciliopathies, as well as from public and private partnerships that create value in a single location. The start-up collaborates with the "Molecular basis of hereditary renal diseases" laboratory of Dr Sophie Saunier, who identified half of the genes responsible for nephronophthisis and co-discovered the lead molecule, and the "Ophthalmic genetics" laboratory of Dr Jean-Michel Rozet.
Medetia is also a partner in the RHU (University Hospital Research, Programme d'Investissement d'Avenir) C'IL-LICO project "Medicine of the future for ciliopathies with renal impairment", coordinated by the IHU Imagine and bringing together 5 research centers on biomarkers and the identification of patients with nephronophthisis.
Many institutional and private supporters
Alongside the Imagine Institute, many partners, institutions and financiers believe in the project. Inserm Transfert accompanies the project and has enabled Medetia to benefit from the support of the HHSF (Human Health Startup Factory) consortium, coordinated by Inserm Transfert, which has accredited Medetia's project for its innovative and DeepTech character. This labeling has allowed to complete a recent seed fund raising through grants and the issuance of convertible bonds via the French Tech program (Emergence and Seed) orchestrated by Bpifrance.
Medetia has been selected for inclusion in the Challenges media's "100 start-ups to invest in in 2021" in the Medtech and Biotech category.
In July 2021, Medetia won the i-Lab innovation competition, financed by the Programme d'investissement d'avenir, organized by the French Ministry of Higher Education, Research and Innovation in partnership with Bpifrance, with the objective of detecting innovative technology start-up projects and supporting the best of them with financial aid and adapted support.
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