Mulhouse, France, September 1, 2011 - Rhenovia Pharma SAS, a biotechnology company specialized in the development and optimization of treatments for diseases of the central and peripheral nervous systems, announces today that it has been selected by the French Armaments Directorate (DGA) and the General Directorate for Competitiveness, Industry and Services of the French Ministry of Economy, Finance and Industry (DGCIS) for inclusion in the RAPID program (Support Regime for Dual Innovation in SMEs). By this distinction, Rhenovia will lead a research program, named RHETOX, which will be conducted in partnership with the French Army’s Biomedical Research Institute (IRBA). Rhenovia will receive EUR 850,000 from a global funding amount of EUR 1.15 million.
The goal of the RHETOX project is to expand the field of application of Rhenovia’s proprietary biosimulation platforms, which are already used in the pharmaceutical and agro-food industries, to include the evaluation of the neurobiological effects of exposure to battlefield neurotoxic agents in order to develop more effective medical counter-measures.
The purpose of the project is to develop a unique neurotoxicity biosimulation platform designed to evaluate the effects of neurotoxins to which military personnel may be exposed in times of war or civilian populations under threat of a terrorist attack, and to identify new ways to counteract these effects. Rhenovia will incorporate in its biosimulation platform the molecular elements required to analyze the effects of organophosphoric neurotoxic agents, such as sarin and soman, as well as pesticides/insecticides like paraoxon, which have similar chemical characteristics and pharmacological properties.
The DGA and DGCIS decided that the RHETOX project met the criteria of RAPID, a disposition designed to finance projects that have major technological and commercial potentials, are the most innovative in terms of industrial research, and have both military and civilian applications.
“Signing this major research contract with the DGA and the DGCIS and inclusion of the company in a very selective program are remarkable recognition signals from the French authorities for Rhenovia’s innovative approach, the performance of its biosimulation platforms, and the breadth of its field of application,” said Dr. Serge Bischoff, president & CEO of Rhenovia Pharma,. “We are delighted to collaborate with the French Ministries of Defense and Economy, which opens up a new market for our technology platform.”
“The extreme gravity of exposure to battlefield neurotoxic agents and, by extension, to certain classes of pesticides, requires the development of an innovative breakthrough technology,” Serge Bischoff continued. “This project will make it possible to take better account of the complexity of biological systems and their interactions with neurotoxins, and will lead to the development of fast, powerful, specific and safe measures to protect against and combat poisonings. This is precisely what the RHETOX project aims to do.”
The RHETOX neurotoxicity biosimulation platform will also have pharmaceutical applications. For example, it should make it possible to predict the secondary neurotoxic effects of any type of drug or NCE on different neuronal molecular targets, leading to improve the safety of pharmacological agents.
Using this platform will also encourage the rationalization of procedures for selecting drugs and identifying potential therapeutic associations, thus ensuring a greater probability of success at the preclinical stage. On completion of the project, the results obtained will make it possible to initiate research into specific antidotes for the benefit of both military personnel and civilian populations that could be exposed.
Eventually, the RHETOX project will enable Rhenovia to enter new markets, including those dedicated to the development of antidotes for neurotoxic agents. It will also contribute to the development of substitutes for some dangerous civilian products used in agriculture and, more broadly, in the chemical industry, such as pesticides, insecticides and herbicides, which have properties similar to those of military neurotoxic agents. In addition, this program will have immediate economic implications for the Alsace region through the creation of new direct and indirect jobs.
About Rhenovia Pharma SAS
Rhenovia Pharma SAS is a biotechnology company that is specialized in the development and optimization of treatments for Alzheimer’s and other diseases of the central and peripheral nervous systems. Rhenovia is a world leader in the biosimulation of nervous system mechanisms in support of the drug discovery process. Its unique nervous transmission modelling technology makes it possible to reproduce on a computer the cellular and molecular mechanisms involved in learning, memory, and a whole range of other impaired brain functions associated with neurological diseases such as epilepsy, neurodegenerative disorders like Alzheimer’s or Parkinson’s, and psychiatric indications such as schizophrenia and depression. Through its Rhenovia Drug Development Optimization Services (RHEDDOS) package, the company makes its technology available to biotechnology and pharmaceutical companies seeking to extend the life cycle of their medicines, develop new drug combinations, or identify new targets for therapeutic compounds.
Rhenovia is based in Mulhouse, France, and employs 20 people in France, Switzerland, Germany and the USA. It was founded in 2007 for the purpose of developing new technologies for optimizing the drug discovery and development process in the biopharmaceutical industry. The company has raised total funding of some EUR three million to date through commercial contracts, French and European calls-for-projects and public tenders, as well as from investors (including Alsace Business Angels and SODIV, a regional venture capital fund), state agencies and seed capital funds, in addition to the equity capital provided by its founders.
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