Pancreatic cancer, a revolution in Poitiers

Pancreatic cancers, a growing epidemic », infrequent, but constantly increasing: approximately +10% since the 1980s. Above all, their prognosis, among the poorest in oncology, may not have improved, unlike that of other tumours. According to consumers, by 2030, they could even become the second leading cause of cancer death behind bronchial tumours. In Charente, for example, the screening of patients who are victims of the tumor has made a link of 51% since 2008.

20% of operable cases

With poor prognoses, it is in small steps that medicine must apprehend the patients, in particular by the classic treatment under the triptych “surgery, radiotherapy and improved”, disconcerted by the low rate of remission. “There are only 20% of operable casessays Sébastien Papot. And again, when the disease is detected early enough, often by chance. » Faced with the disease, a patient may only have to survive an average of 12 months.

Seekyo’s idea: therapeutic vectorization. The concept, which has given rise to a considerable variety of relevant nanotechnology tools, is unknown to the general public. Yet it is one of the most innovative in modern medicine. The idea is “to associate drugs with molecular structures capable of transporting the active ingredient they contain to the exact place where it must come into action in an organ, a tissue or a cell”, then specifies Sébastien Papot. At the beginning of September, the scientist, in the middle of a conference of the prestigious European Federation of Medicinal Chemistry and Chemical Biology (1), projects a huge image of a spaceship in the process of shooting a tumor, in front of a taped floor.

New molecules capable of seeking, detecting and destroying tumours.

“Well, I went a bit too hard but the idea is thathe concedes. It is to create new anti-cancer molecules capable of seeking, detecting and destroying tumors without affecting healthy tissue. » Why do these cancers resist acclaim? The effectiveness of a drug depends on the state of compression of the tumour: the more the cancerous cells are squeezed by their neighbors, sick or healthy, the less the functional works. It’s like entering a crowded subway car to join someone at the other end of the cabin without touching the others. SKY01 then appears as a real homing head, only active in the presence of the tumor, in contact with it. We then speak of “smart medicine”.

“The sinews of war, in this area, are money and timeconcedes Outy Chetboun, president of Seekyo. It is about basic research. There, our strength is that after years of tests on mice, the results are more than positive because success is at its lowest or even non-existent. The data is even such as to engage us in human testing. » A considerable advance at this stage of research which could pave the way, in the long term, to commercialization (box).

Tempera by Sébastien Papot: “You want a scoop, men are not mice, so we will first see how patients react. Research time is not media time. We are aware of the hope and expectations that this can trigger but nothing is done. The adventure begins now. »

(1) The professor works within the Institute of Chemistry of Environments and Materials of the University of Poitiers (IC2MP).

fundraising race

No money, no research. The rule is immemorial. In the scientific world, we even see a decline in French prestige: publications at half mast, declining financial means, low salaries, fractures between rich and poor laboratories, tenured and precarious even signaled the end of the exception of the French model in the landscape. world. “Today, the competition is fierce, it is out of the question for laboratories to finance a project before the testsconfides Sébastien Papot. Scientists, as we go, by creating start-ups and have to take all the risks, for better or for worse. » On January 20, 2020, his company Seekyo announced an initial fundraising of 800,000 euros. In 2021, 650,000 euros were still donated to business angels (donors) and Bpifrance. While his team is ready to finally test the drug with tumors from patients, Sébastien Papot concedes having to raise nearly 1.5 million euros to start the study. More than a third would have been found, “Knowing that the development and marketing of the drug, thereafter, amount to one billion euros”. A phase that would only occur in 6 to 10 years.

Originally, four chemistry students, including a Charentais…

Seven years ago, Charente libre reported it in its pages: “Four chemistry students in Poitiers have just launched an association. They seek to raise funds to finance research on a new form of valorization. »
2015, Geoffrey Jabs, originally from L’Isle-d’Espagnac, founded the Therapeutic Impact association in October with three other comrades from the faculty of chemistry. He follows the courses of Sébastien Papot, already awarded in 2011 for his work on “Trojan horses”, selected for the Charente Prize of the League against cancer in the amount of 25,000 euros. Between two confidences, the professor-researcher at the head of the team, evokes a discovery and “the impossibility of going further due to lack of funds” : “A so-called smart molecule that allows stimulation to be initiated without side effects by targeting only diseased cells. » The apprentice chemists, via the association, will travel the region, including the Charente, in order to raise 550,000 euros. CL readers will also participate to the tune of 1,500 euros.
“It’s a human story above allexplains Charles Ciriac, now a doctoral student in molecular microbiology and president of Therapeutic Impact. We are always active in communicating about Sébastien Papot’s research and its progress, even if his company is now evolving in the big leagues. The radiation became immense for what was at the base of a small structure. This is its strength and an example. At a time when brains and small French labs are going abroad to benefit from larger and easier to access funding, Seekyo wants to prosper on the territory. The sector is ultra-competitive, especially in cancer research. Seekyo is clearly doing well.”

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