MI-mAbs, a new immunotechnology center designed to accelerate the development of new immunotherapy antibodies against cancer and inflammatory disease, today announced the signature of the consortium agreement sealing the commitment of its founders: Aix-Marseille Université (AMU) and its private subsidiary Protisvalor, CNRS, Inserm, the Institute Paoli-Calmettes (IPC), 3 of their research centers (the Centre d’Immunologie de Marseille-Luminy, the Cancer Research Center of Marseille and the Centre for Immunophenomics), the European leader in immuno-oncology, Innate Pharma and Sanofi, one of the world leaders in health.
Prize-Winner of the program « Investments for the Future » 2011 in the "preindustrial demonstrators" category, for an amount of 19 million euros, MI-mAbs intends to help strengthen France’s position in the field of immunotherapy antibodies, drugs that are revolutionizing the treatment of cancer. MI-mAbs ("MI" for Marseille Immunopôle and "mAbs" for monoclonal antibody) is the key technological tool of Marseille Immunopôle, a new cluster aiming to make the Marseille metropolis a world leader in research and development of immune-based therapies.
In practice, MI-mAbs generates antibodies against candidate therapeutic targets discovered by researchers (molecules likely to help our immune system to fight cancer or inflammatory diseases) and validates their efficacy and safety on in vivo models of human disease and human biological samples. In this way, MI-mAbs enables researchers to validate the therapeutic potential of their scientific hypotheses and allows biopharmaceutical companies to focus their development efforts on the most promising antibody candidates.
"Aix-Marseille Université (AMU) is especially proud of carrying out this project. Following the philosophy that drove the creation of AMU, MI-mAbs is truly the fruit of a collective goal: to unite academy and industry around the idea of a "one-stop shop" exclusively dedicated to research and development for immunotherapy antibodies," explained Pr. Yvon Berland, President of AMU. "By participating in the immunotechnology education of our students, MI-mAbs will also further one of the strategic priorities of the Marseille Immunopôle cluster (MI) which aims to make our metropolis one of the best immunology schools in the world."
"The consortium agreement reflects the founders’ shared desire to create an immunotechnology center to directly accelerate and secure the key turning point of target validation and antibody candidate selection," pointed out Pr. François Romagné, Scientific Director at MI-mAbs. "With MI-mAbs, from now on academic and industrial researchers working in the immunotherapy field will benefit from a unique collaborative space based on a continuum of expertise, competence, technologies and seasoned managers well-versed in industry standards."
"At times our research leads to the discovery of new therapeutic targets. Even if it’s not in our power to convert them into drugs, we must still ensure that their therapeutic potential is assessed as quickly as possible,” underscored Pr. Eric Vivier, Coordinator of MI-mAbs and Director of the Centre d’Immunologie de Marseille-Luminy (CIML). "MI-mAbs will be a strategic technological tool for researchers since they can expand their knowledge of the biology of their target while validating its therapeutic potential and accelerating delivery to the patient." concluded Pr. Jean Paul Borg, Director of the Cancer Research Center of Marseille (CRCM) and Scientific Director of IPC.
Pr Kurt Stoeckli, Vice President Global BioTherapeutiques at Sanofi, notes, "Through the MI-mAbs project, Sanofi is confirming its commitment to bring innovative biotherapies to patients suffering from cancer and inflammatory diseases with significant unmet medical needs. To accelerate innovation and respond to patients’ needs in these fields we have chosen to combine once again our expertise and our resources with partners of excellence in immunology."
"Immunotherapy antibodies are fundamentally changing cancer treatment. In this context, and as is evidenced by the support of the General Investment Commission, MI-mAbs is helping strengthen the French monoclonal antibody industry " declared Hervé Brailly, co-founder and CEO of Innate Pharma. "In this sense, MI-mAbs is at the heart of an ambitious territorial strategy that aims to make the Marseille metropolis the world leader in the upstream of this industry. Moreover, this project is supported by the local government authorities and the State, as MI is one of 12 biotech projects retained among the 34 industrial plans of the French government."