A new scientific challenge for URGO: healing patients suffering from serious wounds using artificial skin

• Artificial skin, a ground-breaking therapeutic solution for healing serious wounds
• A public-private partnership of French expertise
• A project backed by 22.8 million euros

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Urgo is proud to announce the launch of a particularly innovative research project, GENESIS, which is aiming to develop a new solution for healing serious wounds. The project benefits from funding of 22.8 million euros from the “Projets structurants pour la compétitivité (PSCP)” (Structuring Projects for Competitiveness) programme operated by Bpifrance on behalf of the state as part of the Programme d’investissement d’avenir (PIA) (Future Investment Programme). It brings together five recognised expert partners in their field: URGO Group, an AFM-Téléthon laboratory, the Établissement Français du Sang (French Blood Donation Agency), Dassault Systèmes and the LBTI (CNRS / Claude Bernard University Lyon 1).

Serious wounds, a public health issue

Healing serious wounds, such as those resulting from severe burns, requires treatment in a specialist hospital unit. At present, autografting is the only effective treatment for healing wounds. This involves multiple surgical procedures, enabling skin to be taken and grafted, lengthy hospital stays (30 days on average), as well as long-term outpatient follow-up. These wounds, which are particularly painful, considerably impact patients’ quality of life.

As a result, there is a medical need that is not being met given that the available therapeutic solutions still have major drawbacks. Among these, in addition to the patient’s suffering, is a high treatment cost for the healthcare system, which can amount to 100,000 euros to treat the most severe burns.

A major therapeutic innovation: artificial skin

Faced with this sizeable public health issue, the GENESIS research project is aiming to create artificial skin, a totally innovative therapeutic solution, and to make it available to the greatest number of patients.

Recreating skin is a genuine scientific challenge and a number of researchers would dearly like to achieve it. The skin is the largest organ in the body. As the body’s outer layer, it plays a key role in providing protection against the external environment (micro-organisms, UV, mechanical damage such as friction).

This artificial skin will be designed to mimic the skin’s essential functions and to close the most complex wounds without needing to rely on autografting. This solution could thus reduce the length of hospital stays and treatment, and as a result, alleviate suffering and lower the risk of complications for patients.

A consortium of internationally-renowned partners working together to address this challenge

To implement this major project, Urgo, a recognised wound care expert and now a global player, has surrounded itself with four partners with vital scientific, technological and industrial expertise: an AFM-Téléthon laboratory, the Établissement Français du Sang (French Blood Donation Agency), Dassault Systèmes and the LBTI (CNRS / Claude Bernard University Lyon 1).

Guirec Le Lous, President of Urgo Medical, the leader of this collaborative project, is enthusiastic: “URGO Medical’s mission is to heal patients with wounds. We have already demonstrated our commitment to research for developing ground-breaking treatments, such as those for diabetic foot wounds, the clinical results of which were awarded the Prix Galien. Our aim, today, is to help health professionals treat serious wounds by developing an effective treatment providing more rapid relief for patients. Creating artificial skin is a genuine scientific and technological challenge. To enter this new research territory, we wanted to bring together the best in their field. We have always been convinced of the power of public-private partner-oriented research.
For Cathy Bliem, Chief Executive of the Établissement Français du Sang (French Blood Donation Agency), “This collaboration on the GENESIS project relies on the expertise of its Atlantic Bio GMP structure, which is at the forefront of biotechnology. This structure, one of the EFS’s four pharmaceutical platforms, is involved in the production of innovative therapy drugs. The EFS’s aim is to provide the French and European scientific and industrial community – but above all patients – with the most innovative products. The GENESIS project is fully in line with this.

Patrick Johnson, Vice-President Corporate Research at Dassault Systèmes, adds: “This project highlights the growing importance of virtual twins for bioproduction and cutting-edge therapeutic applications, such as those associated with the skin. Combining a representation of the biology and industrial performance of bioprocesses, the 3DEXPERIENCE platform is uniquely positioned for medical innovation and patients.

The laboratoire de biologie tissulaire et d’ingénierie thérapeutique (Tissue Biology and Therapeutic Engineering Laboratory) (LBTI, CNRS / Lyon1) will provide its expertise in terms of understanding the biological and physiological mechanisms of serious wounds. This ambitious project will involve the entire breadth of the LBTI’s scientific knowledge, from the furthest upstream to the most applied, and illustrates the wealth and potential of collaborations between public research and industrial activity,” says Jean-Luc Moullet, Senior Executive Vice President for innovation at CNRS (French National Centre for Scientific Research), and Frédéric Fleury, President of Claude Bernard University Lyon 1.

A project backed bu 22.8 Million Euros

France has chosen to believe in this ambitious research project, which contributes to France’s sovereignty in terms of health and its place on the international stage.

The GENESIS project has been recognised by the Strategic Committee of the Health Industries and Technologies Sector (CSF ITS), which supports strategic sectors to increase France’s competitiveness and the transformation of its health industries for the future. It also has the support of the Medicen competitiveness cluster, which highlights innovative, general interest and collaborative projects.

URGO is maintaining its historic roots in Burgundy by creating a dedicated laboratory in Chenôve. This laboratory has the support of the Greater Dijon Region, the Burgundy Franche-Comté Region and the state, which wished to be associated with this challenge.

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