Paris may attract tourist masses, but it also attracts a lot of biotech enthusiasts. In this guide, we explore the 15 most successful and interesting biotech companies in Paris.
Paris has arguably the biggest biotech cluster in Europe, with a wide range of applications being developed from drug development and medical devices to synthetic biology and green energy. To start making sense of Paris’ biotech landscape, here is a list of the 15 biotech companies in Paris that you should definitely know. As usual, the list is in alphabetical order.
Abivax is one of the closest players to launching the first functional cure for HIV — one that does not wipe out the virus completely, but leaves people living with HIV healthy and medication-free.
Abivax’s therapy — currently about to enter a phase IIb trial — inhibits the ability of the HIV virus to replicate its RNA and produce more copies of itself. But its most important feature is that it can target the reservoir of HIV virus particles that ‘hide’ inactive within infected human cells.
In the last two years, Abivax found that HIV drug development is slow due to regulatory obstacles, and has advanced the same drug in a different indication: the inflammatory disease ulcerative colitis. Abivax launched a phase IIb trial in ulcerative colitis patients in late 2019, with results expected by the end of 2020.
Abivax listed on Euronext Paris with an IPO of €58M in 2015, and now has a market cap of over €200M.
Carmat has developed a fully artificial heart for patients that have suffered end-stage heart failure. The company is currently running a clinical trial implanting the hearts in patients in France, Denmark, the Czech Republic, and Kazakhstan, with the aim of extending patient survival long-term, or until they receive a heart transplant.
After a temporary halt in this clinical trial that was lifted in 2017, Carmat refined the manufacturing methods and design of the artificial heart. The company has recently begun enrolling more patients in the clinical trial and expects to reach completion in late 2021. In addition, Carmat expects to begin a US clinical trial in late 2020.
Listed on Euronext Paris, the company has a market cap of €250M.
Cellectis is developing next-generation versions of CAR T-cell therapy, a form of cell therapy for cancer that has shown impressive remission rates in patients with severe forms of blood cancer for whom conventional therapies have failed.
In particular, Cellectis is developing an off-the-shelf version of CAR T-cells, in which the cells are derived from donors instead of the patient, saving money and time. The company has also developed a mechanism to make the therapy safer by switching off the cells when side effects become life-threatening. More recently, the company released positive preclinical evidence supporting a CAR T-cell therapy that can attack solid tumors, unlike the current forms of the therapy.
Cellectis has six off-the-shelf therapies in clinical trials, with three licensed to Servier and Allogene. Its lead candidate off-the-shelf therapy is now in phase I development. This makes it one of the most advanced players in the field. The company trades on the Nasdaq and the Euronext Paris stock exchanges with a combined market cap on both markets of over €1B.
DBV Technologies was the first French biotech to be listed on the Nasdaq back in 2014. Today, it has a market cap of over €900M. The company is developing a skin patch that could help children with life-threatening food allergies by exposing them to controlled amounts of the substance that provokes their allergy.
DBV’s most advanced treatment is for peanut allergies, which is currently in phase III development. The company withdrew its first submission for FDA approval in late 2018 after the FDA wanted more data regarding manufacturing and quality control. DBV resubmitted the application in August 2019 and awaits an FDA decision by August 2020. In the meantime, DBV was beaten by its US competitor Aimmune Therapeutics in the race to get the first peanut allergy treatment approved by the FDA last month.
DBV also has a treatment for milk allergy at phase I/II and an egg allergy treatment in preclinical development.
DNA Script is developing a new method of synthesizing DNA that has the potential to significantly reduce the time it takes to make custom DNA sequences in the lab. To replace traditional chemical synthesis, the company engineers the polymerase enzymes that are responsible for synthesizing DNA in cells.
As reading DNA has become much faster and more affordable in the last decade, writing DNA has become a bottleneck. Faster DNA synthesis will contribute to reducing the price and enabling more applications, from synthetic biology to using DNA as data storage.
Founded in 2014, the company raised €34M in a Series B fundraising last year and has received two grants from Bpifrance. Additionally, the company is working with a consortium that aims to develop technology capable of storing and retrieving 1 terabyte of DNA-encoded data within 24 hours.
Enterome is developing treatments that target bacteria of the gut microbiome, which in the last decade has been increasingly linked to human health. Specifically, the company’s drugs target the interaction between the microbiome and the immune system.
Enterome’s most advanced program is being co-developed with Takeda in phase II to treat Crohn’s disease by inhibiting a bacterial gene involved in the inflammation of the gut. A second candidate consists of bacterial antigens that activate the immune system to attack glioblastoma cancer cells.
Enterome’s technology first attracted Takeda in 2018, with the two signing a €600M collaboration deal. In addition to Takeda, Enterome also formed other partnerships, one with Bristol-Myers Squibb in the area of immuno-oncology in 2016, and the other with Nestlé Health Science in 2017. The Nestlé partnership resulted in the launch of Microbiome Diagnostics Partners, a firm that focuses on developing microbiome diagnostic tests that could help determine which patients are most likely to benefit from treatments that target the microbiome.
GenSight Biologics is developing gene therapies to treat inherited forms of blindness. The company’s most advanced treatment is intended for Leber hereditary optic neuropathy, a rare mitochondrial disease that causes irreversible loss of vision.
GenSight’s therapy injected into one eye improved patients’ sight in two phase III trials, though the trials were complicated by a strong placebo effect in the other eye injected with a control treatment. The company is now confident that the treatment injected into just one eye can benefit both eyes, and aims to file for FDA approval in late 2020.
GenSight is listed on Euronext Paris with a market cap of over €100M.
GenSight is not the only company in Paris in this space. Horama and Eyevensys are also two remarkable Parisians working in gene therapy for blindness. Horama’s lead candidate is entering phase III for the treatment of retinitis pigmentosa and Eyevensys is testing a non-viral gene therapy for non-infectious uveitis in a phase I/II trial.
Global Bioenergies is working with big names like Repsol, Audi and L’Oréal for the development of a more sustainable process to produce isobutene and other chemicals that are essential for the manufacturing of fuels, plastics, and cosmetics. The company has a market cap of over €30M on Euronext Growth in Paris.
The company is in the process of scaling up a method that uses bacterial fermentation to transform plant waste into valuable chemical compounds. It opened a demonstration plant for the production of isobutene in 2019, and scaled up the production of cosmetic ingredients isopropanol and acetone to demonstration scale in 2018.
At a less advanced stage, Global Bioenergies is also working on scaling up processes that use wood and industrial gases as a starting material, which have a reduced cost and cause a bigger environmental impact.
Lysogene was founded in 2009 by Karen Aiach after her daughter was diagnosed with Sanfilippo syndrome, a rare disease of the central nervous system. There is no treatment for Sanfilippo beyond palliative care, and Lysogene aims to find a cure using gene therapy that is delivered directly into the brain.
After licensing partial commercial rights to the treatment to Sarepta in late 2018, Lysogene launched a phase II/III clinical trial that could lead to the approval of the therapy. The company is also planning to test in phase I a second gene therapy directed at another rare disease called GM1 gangliosidosis.
Lysogene carried out a small €23M IPO on Euronext Paris in 2017, and has a market cap of around €40M.
MedDay Pharma was founded in 2011 by a neurologist and entrepreneur team-up. The company focuses on neurological disorders such as multiple sclerosis.
MedDay’s lead candidate drug is currently in phase III testing for the treatment of progressive forms of multiple sclerosis. The drug is a high dose of biotin, also known as vitamin H, designed to act on the metabolism of nerve cells and stop them from losing their protective myelin sheaths in the disease.
The company is also testing the same drug in phase II for the rare condition Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease, and in phase I for hepatic encephalopathy, a condition where liver disease impacts the brain by the buildup of toxins in the blood.
Nanobiotix is developing nanoparticles that are able to amplify and focus radiotherapy in patients with cancer. The company’s lead candidate treatment for soft tissue sarcoma was approved by the EMA in early 2019. This was based on a phase II/III trial in patients with soft tissue sarcoma, where the nanoparticles increased the percentage of patients that had a complete response to radiotherapy.
With a €188M market cap on Euronext Paris, Nanobiotix is running several clinical trials with its technology in multiple types of cancer, including head and neck, liver, rectal and prostate cancer.
Onxeo was born in 2014 when the French company BioAlliance Pharma merged with the Danish firm Topotarget. As a result, the company is listed on both Euronext Paris and Nasdaq Copenhagen with a €30M market cap.
Onxeo’s small molecule drug, Beleodaq, received conditional approval from the FDA later in 2014 to treat blood cancer. However, the company’s luck didn’t hold for its second drug, Livatag, which failed in a phase III trial for the treatment of liver cancer in 2017.
Onxeo now focuses on treating cancer with oligonucleotide drugs that block cancer cells from repairing their DNA, also known as DNA damage response inhibitors. While other drugs targeting DNA damage response in cancer block one specific DNA damage response mechanism, Onxeo’s drugs are designed to be decoys for multiple mechanisms at once. This could stop cancer cells from becoming resistant to the treatment.
The company’s lead candidate drug is currently being tested in phase Ib trials for the treatment of solid tumors. The drug is being tested alone and in combination with chemotherapy and other types of cancer drugs. Onxeo’s second candidate cancer drug is currently in preclinical development.
OSE Immunotherapeutics is a biotech that has a market cap of €60M on Euronext Paris. The company seeks to modulate the immune system with the intention to treat cancer, autoimmune diseases and rejection of a donated organ.
OSE’s most advanced treatment consists of a combination of 10 fragments of cancer antigens that stimulate T-cells to attack cancer cells that express at least one of these antigens. It is in phase III trials for non-small cell lung cancer and in phase II to treat pancreatic cancer in combination with the checkpoint inhibitor drug Opdivo.
In 2018, OSE signed a partnership with Boehringer Ingelheim that could reach up to €1.1B for the development of a new checkpoint inhibitor antibody. In its autoimmune pipeline, OSE has partnered with big pharma like Janssen and Servier. In 2019, OSE acquired the Swiss cancer vaccine biotech AMAL Therapeutics, and the company has also recently begun exploring the potential of artificial intelligence in drug discovery via collaborations with the French institution Léon Bérard Center, and the French firm mAbSilico.
Pharnext is a biopharma company developing combinations of existing drugs that could treat rare diseases. The firm uses genomic data to identify the potential molecules causing a disease, and then identifies which drug combinations would best treat the condition.
Pharnext’s lead candidate combination successfully completed a phase III trial for the treatment of the rare neurological condition Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease in late 2018. However, an unexpected formulation problem interrupted the treatments of the high-dose patient group. The FDA consequently requested an additional phase III trial, which the company is preparing to run.
Pharnext has the same drug combination in phase IIb for children with the same disease. The company is also testing a different drug combination for the treatment of Alzheimer’s disease in phase II, and the rare condition amyotrophic lateral sclerosis entering phase II.
Pharnext is listed on the Paris-based Euronext Growth Stock Exchange with a market cap of over €80M.
Tissium, previously known as Gecko Biomedical, has developed a biodegradable surgical glue that draws inspiration from the adhesives geckos use to stick to walls. The material, which received EU approval in 2017, can improve wound healing after surgery through a light activation system that lets surgeons control the procedure more accurately.
Founded in 2013, Tissium raised almost €40M in a Series B round in late 2019. The company is now working to bring to market a series of new applications for its technology, including 3D bioprinting and regenerative medicine, such as healing lesions in Crohn’s disease.
This article was originally published in April 2016 and authored by Denise Neves Gameiro. It has since been updated to reflect the latest advances of the companies featured. Images via Shutterstock