ADNA – "Advanced Diagnostics for New therapeutic Approaches" – was initiated by Dr. Christophe Mérieux who specifically sought to develop a more personalized form of medicine,
in particular for infectious diseases and cancer. This program was begun in 2006.
Federated and coordinated by Institut Mérieux, the ADNA program is directed by Christine GUILLEN who is responsible for managing and implementing the program through its partners.
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The ADNA program brings together four players: bioMérieux and GenoSafe in diagnostics, Généthon and Transgene in therapy. Other scientific partners contribute their expertise:
the French Commission for atomic and alternative energies (CEA Leti), the National Center of Scientific Research (CNRS), Hospices Civils de Lyon (HCL) -
Lyon University Hospitals, STMicroelectronics (ST) and Université Claude Bernard at Lyon (UCBL).
The ADNA program seeks to develop a more personalized form of medicine, focusing on infectious diseases, cancers and rare genetic diseases and providing innovative "theranostic" products and services for healthcare professionals.
ADNA is an ambitious research and development program with an estimated budget of about €170 million over 10 years that is supported by bpifrance and will receive government funding of €75 million in the same period.
"Bpifrance’s significant funding confirms the pertinence of the program’s scientific and technological focus. It gives us new resources for meeting the challenges of personalized medicine by adapting the best possible treatment to each patient. ADNA will have to rise to lofty challenges in terms of public health and medical innovation,"
Research focus of the ADNA program
The ADNA program partners will synergistically focus on three main research themes for development of new products:
The discovery and validation of biomarkers:
This activity involves bioMérieux, Hospices Civils de Lyon, GenoSafe, Généthon and Transgene, using shared technological approaches such as the analysis of gene expression, proteomic analyses, immunological and cellular tracking.
In terms of therapy, the partners’ various clinical trials will allow access to patients’ samples in order to research and validate biomarkers. The areas of biomarker research are the following:
- infectious diseases (research on the susceptibility to infections, septic shock and its consequences, markers of persistent infection such as the HPV virus).
- cancer diagnosis and their targeted treatment in particular by therapeutic vaccines.
- rare genetic diseases such as Duchenne’s myopathy, to determine more precisely the stage of progress of the disease, choose the best moment to perform genetic therapy, and track the response to the treatment.
bioMérieux is also developing, in partnership with pharmaceutical partners (IPSEN and others), approaches to companion tests with biomarkers associated with their therapeutic molecule.
The discovery and validation of biomarkers also entails the development and common provision of tools and expertise in bioinformatics, biomathematics, biostatistics and knowledge engineering to ultimately create software for interpreting results.
Généthon and Transgene study viral vectors such as AAV (Adeno Associated Viruses) and MVA (Modified attenuated Vaccinia virus, strain Ankara) to develop their respective therapies.
Beyond the construction of these recombinant vectors that contain therapeutically-important genes, the targeted objectives for administration in humans requires the development of special manufacturing processes based on culturing cells.
The quantities to produce for treating a large population of patients, combined with the regulatory requirements for efficacy and safety of human injectable products,
require the development of unique industrial processes for each product that are still relatively uncommon in the pharmaceutical industry.
The efforts of the consortium bear on the development of cells capable of producing recombinant viruses and infrastructures for the production of clinical trial lots then volumes of products for distribution.
Microsystems for diagnostics:
The development of diagnostic systems for the analysis or dosage of biomarkers requires integration of a large number of additional technologies.
The analysis of a combination of biomarkers (for example the expression of several genes) from a single laboratory sample is a tedious,
time-consuming and costly process for specialized research and highly-qualified laboratories. One of the challenges is to simplify the analysis protocols and automate,
with innovative technologies, the diagnostic tests procedures (parallelized PCR, sequencing...) conducted by a larger number of laboratories.
Products and services targeted by the ADNA program
The goal of ADNA is to promote development of innovative products and services in the following complementary areas:
In vitro diagnosis by bioMérieux, in association with its partners CEA Leti, CNRS, HCL, STMicroelectronics and UCBL :
- new molecular biology platforms for infectious diseases diagnosis and the performance of analyses with high medical value for cancer,
- biomarkers for the diagnosis and prognosis of certain cancers and infectious diseases.
Services for research and development of new biotherapy products by GenoSafe:
- a technological platform for immunological tracking of patients for assessment of safety and efficacy of new biotherapeutic products, from pre-clinical research to market introduction.
Rare genetic diseases, by Généthon:
- gene therapy products for rare genetic neuromuscular diseases such as Duchenne’s myopathy,
- theranostic biomarkers related to neuromuscular diseases, in particular Duchenne’s myopathy.
Therapeutic vaccines against infectious diseases and cancer, by Transgene:
- against cancer linked to human papillomavirus (HPV):, vaccine currently in pre-clinical stage of development,
- against lung cancer: vaccine currently at the end of phase IIb trials,
- biomarkers associated with these vaccines.