Innovaud Connect LIFE SCIENCE

Bacteria are often associated with diseases and compromised health. Detergents and bactericide are widely used on the planet to eradicate pathogens. In 2017, 160.000 tons of antibiotics will be used for human health and to prevent epizooties in livestock. Consumption of antibiotic has had positive effects insuring for instance, a rather good quality and availability of meet on the planet. Furthermore, since Word-War II, the number of deaths caused by infectious diseases has dropped down from 40% to 2% of the population in the western countries. On the other hand, overuse of antibiotics has lead to the immergence of life-threatening “superbugs”, bacterial strains that are resistant to several classes of antibiotics.

Increasing scientific data is showing that bacteria can also be responsible for maintaining health. The human body is colonized by thousands of billions of bacteria. It is estimated that there are about 10 bacteria for each cell of the body! And health appears to be maintained by a subtle equilibrium between different bacterial strains.

In that context, Innovaud has organized at the Biopôle, the 9th of May, an Innovaud Connect on the theme “bacteria and parasites – Friends or Foes?” gathering about 30 academic and industry experts in that field. A first presentation was given by Prof Jan-Willem Veening from the UNIL focusing on the understanding of the molecular mechanisms underlying the bacterial acquisition of antibiotic resistance. His research is suggesting that specific compounds can block the exchange of DNA coding for antibiotic resistance between bacteria, opening doors to new strategies to slow down the spread of superbugs.

The second presentation was given by Pierre-Marie Guyonvarc’h, CEO of Tolerys. At Tolerys altered BCG strains are tested for their effect on treating chronic inflammatory diseases such as asthma, inflammatory bowel diseases and atherosclerosis. Preclinical animal data has shown very promising results that still need to be confirmed in humans.

Finally, Philippe Meuwly, CEO of Pharmalp, closed this Innovaud Connect by presenting the challenges of developing and selling probiotics in Switzerland. Mainly, he spotted out that hard clinical data was critical to prove the efficacy of probiotics; however Swiss medical authorities do not allow to use health claims as selling arguments.

The companies, institutions or organizations assisting to this fruitful Connect were Abionic, Mymetics, Tolerys, Pharmalp, Biokema, Nestlé Institute for Health Sciences (NIHS), Debiopharm, Euresearch, Alliance, Innovaud, Service de la promotion Économique et du Commerce du Canton de Vaud, UNIL, EPFL, CHUV, PACTT, …

Written by Pierre-Jean Wipff, Innovation Counselor in Life Science for Innovaud