MONTPELLIER, France—The French biotech company Ciloa recently scored a first for it and its exosome work when it announced recently that one of its projects had been chosen for the Sanofi iTech Awards program—this program had not previously selected projects led by biotechnology companies.
This award selection provides funding and scientific support from Sanofi throughout 2021. Sanofi started the program for startups and small to medium-sized enterprises—as well as French academic players and public technological institutes—for the purpose of identifying and contributing to the development of new technologies and innovative approaches in order to significantly improve the discovery, development, and optimization of treatments in Sanofi’s priority areas.
From the applications reviewed by the joint scientific steering committee, 11 projects from companies and academic laboratories were selected in four categories, including Ciloa, which was selected for the Nanobody Explorative Technology category.
The Ciloa project will be led by company CEO Robert Mamoun, who is also the former director of research at INSERM, and it will rely on Ciloa’s innovative technology, which is based on exosome customization.
In advanced stages of the project, Ciloa will study the introduction of therapeutic molecules into exosomes for various therapeutic applications. The resulting technological development has the opportunity for use in various research and treatment in various areas, including cancer, rare diseases, neurological diseases, cardiac diseases, and diabetes.
The company’s customized exosomes are reportedly capable of transporting therapeutic proteins to a targeted organ, opening doors to a new generation of more specific and effective biomedicines with a better tolerance profile.
Among other things, this specialized technology allows Ciloa to push forward its goal to develop a new type of vaccine which would use the ability of exosomes to mimic a virus, thus eliminating the need to inject viral material into patients. Ciloa’s most recent vaccine candidate, developed to fight COVID-19, has shown particularly promising results, including immune responses leading to the production of neutralizing antibodies and T cells responsible for the destruction of pathogens in the body.
”We are honored by the final selection of our project in the Sanofi iTech Awards program, which highlights the strong interest of Sanofi in Ciloa’s unique technology of customized exosome,” said Mamoun. “Since the creation of the company, we have been convinced of the huge potential of exosomes as natural vehicles for biomolecules in the body. This partnership, by confirming the added value of exosomes for human health applications, is a strong support for the further development of our new generations of innovative biomedicines and vaccines.
He added that this year seems to be very promising for the company, adding: “We look forward to moving into the early clinical phases to evaluate the therapeutic potential of this unique technology in humans.”
Ciloa’s technology is said to be the only one to date allowing the customization of exosomes in vivo with various types of proteins. Recently, the company has used its expertise in the production and purification of customized exosomes to build a production unit that will allow it to deliver GMP-grade exosomes for batches of future clinical trials. This new unit will allow Ciloa to have complete manufacturing control and independence, starting with the initiation of the clinical phases. Ciloa’s future biomedicines and vaccines based on exosomes will thus comply with the requirements of regulatory agencies.
Created in 2011 by Mamoun and co-founder Bernadette Trentin, Ciloa is a spin-off from the CNRS (Centre national de la recherche scientifique) and the University of Montpellier. Ciloa has an exclusive patented technology for the in-vivo development of recombinant exosomes in therapeutic and preventive applications. The company is supported by such key players in innovation as the Occitanie Region, the BPI of Montpellier, the Eurobiomed competitiveness cluster, the AD’OCC agency and the CNRS, and expects to continue its development on the territory of Occitanie and thus contribute to the reinforcement of strategic industrial sectors in France.
Sanofi, for its part, is a Paris-based multinational pharmaceutical company dedicated to supporting human health through the development of vaccines and therapeutics, in particular offering new treatment and pain management solutions to those with rare diseases and chronic conditions. Recently, Sanofi has offered support to both GlaxoSmithKline and Johnson & Johnson for development and manufacturing of their respective COVID-19 vaccines.