We discover and develop new therapies for deadly and debilitating diseases.
Ecrins Therapeutics is a biotech company that develops a first-in-class small molecule drug candidate against several oncology indications in humans and domestic animals. Our lead drug candidate, ET-D5 is currently in the regulatory preclinical stage and scheduled to enter the first-in-human clinical trial in 2017. The first veterinary clinical trial will start in 2016.
Laureate of the INSERM program “Avenir”, Dr. Andrei Popov became the group leader at the CEA of Grenoble in 2003. He launched a research project with a focus on the mechanisms of cell division and bioactive small molecules – both fields relevant to oncology (INSERM and Université Grenoble Alpes). Aurélie Juhem joined his team in 2005 to carry out her doctoral studies with a project aimed at the identification of new bioactive small molecules perturbing cell division. This research was performed in close collaboration with chemists of the Institut Curie/CNRS (Paris). This teamwork resulted in the identification of several drug candidates, among which the family of the ET-D5 drug candidate.
In 2009, the project was awarded the “Proof of concept” grant by the “Canceropôle Lyon Auvergne Rhône-Alpes” (CLARA), allowing the team to establish the in vivo proof-of-concept in several animal models of human cancers. After having filed a patent in March 2010, the idea of a start-up came around and Ecrins Therapeutics was born in July that same year, founded by Andrei Popov, Aurélie Juhem and professor François Berger, neuro-oncologist of the Grenoble University hospital.
Trained initially as a doctor, Andrei Popov graduated from the Sechenov Moscow Medical Academy in 1988. He then worked as a doctoral and postdoctoral fellow respectively at the Babraham Insitute in Cambridge, UK, and at the European Molecular Biology Laboratory (EMBL) in Heidelberg, Germany. He received his PhD in biology in 1997 for his work on the creation of transgenic mice carrying and expressing functional germ-line shaped human immunoglobulin loci. A European Molecular Biology Organization (EMBO) and Human Frontier Science Program (HFSP) fellow during his spell at EMBL, Andrei Popov became a laureate of the Inserm program “Avenir” in 2003. This grant allowed him to establish an independent research group at Inserm in Grenoble, France, with a focus on the mechanisms of cell division and bioactive small molecules, both fields relevant to oncology. To date, Andrei has authored 25 publications in peer-reviewed scientific journals, obtained 10 research grants and is the named inventor on 2 patents.
Trained as a biologist, Aurélie Juhem earned her PhD in cell biology in 2008 from the Joseph Fourier University. After spending 2 years in a lab focused on intestinal chronic diseases, she decided to turn towards cancer research by joining Dr. Popov’s group for her thesis. During her time there, she established an original and rigorous drug-screening algorithm that lead to the discovery of a number of bioactive small molecules. Her PhD work resulted in the identification and characterization of a first-in-class synthetic inhibitor with vascular disrupting activity and an original target. Describing a series of anticancer compounds, this discovery was patented by the Joseph Fourier University and Institut Curie/CNRS. To date, Aurélie has published 10 peer-review papers and is the named inventor on 1 patent.
Trained in toxicology in 2014 at the Claude Bernard University (Lyon), she is currently taking clinical research classes (e-learning) at the University of Bordeaux. Co-founder of Ecrins Therapeutics, she has held the role of R&D Director until February 2016 before becoming COO of the company.
Scientific advisory board
François Bellamy is a medicinal chemist with over 30 years of experience in Medicinal Chemistry, Drug Discovery, and Preclinical Development within the pharmaceutical industry (Vice President Preclinical Research, Laboratoires Fournier). He also acts as Operations Consultant for dozens of start-ups (including AB Science, Carex, Inflectis, Librophyt, Neuroservices, Neuraxxon…). His research activities have covered various fields including cardiovascular diseases, immunology, neuroprotection, anti-viral drugs, oncology… He is responsible for filing over 60 international patents, 20 of which he was the inventor.
Under his supervision, 17 NCEs (New Chemical Entities) have gone into preclinical development with a 100% success rate allowing them to move forward into clinical development. 12 have progressed to Phase II studies so a 70% sucess rate, while 2 have been studied in Phase III – Imupedone, and Olesoxime. One of the products, Masitinib, was approved by the EMA in 2008 and the FDA in 2010 as veterinary medication (an anticancer drug for dogs) and is currently awaiting approval from the EMA as an anti-cancer medicine for humans. Registration for two other molecules is expected soon.
Dr Jean-Pierre Armand focuses his cancer research on the field of the new mechanisms of oncogenesis and early drug development.
Jean-Pierre Armand MD, MSc, is certified in Medical Oncology at the University of Toulouse III and the University of Paris XI. After a research fellow position in Columbia University New York, Dr. Armand joined the Claudius Regaud Institut in Toulouse where he was head of Medical oncology until 1984. For the following 23 years at the Institut Gustave Roussy (IGR) in Paris, he was successively CEO of the IGR3 Hospital, head of the Department of Medical oncology at IGR2, and finally CMO of the Dept. of Innovation and Development at IGR. Recently General Director of the Institut Claudius Regaud in Toulouse (2007 -2012), Dr Armand is now back in Paris as senior consultant in the drug development department (DITEP) at GUSTAVE ROUSSY cancer campus Grand Paris University Hospital.
Although an expert in breast, head&neck, and neuro oncologies, the first field of Dr Armand was early drug development (Phases I and II). Founder of the IGR Phase I Unit (Ditep) in the early 80s, he conducted the first-in-human Phase I clinical trials of numerous drugs including now classical cytotoxics – Irinotecan, Oxaliplatin, Taxotere, Navelbine, Vinflunine, and more recently, targeted therapies such as Sutent, Sorafenib, and Temsirolismus. Dr. Armond (co)authored more than 300 medical and scientific peer-reviewed articles and has received numerous awards.
After graduating with a degree in chemistry, Jean-Jacques Zeiller started a long career (32 years) in R&D in the pharmaceutical industry, as a medicinal chemist. He then took over the responsibility of several preclinical projects as Preclinical Development Team Leader in different therapeutic areas including lipid lowering and anti-diabetic agents. He was nominated as Global Product Team Leader (GPTL) shortly thereafter, first in Diabetes and then in Oncology, where he was responsible for international clinical development projects. As GPTL, he took care of transitions from preclinical to Phase 1, launch and follow-up of Phase 1, as well as the preparation and set-up of Phase 2 clinical trials.
Jean-Jacques first started his career in Lipha (Lyon), later transitioning to different companies that now constitute what is currently the Merck Group based in Darmstadt (Germany). Since the end of 2010, Jean-Jacques Zeiller has been playing a role as an expert in industrial and clinical transfer at the Canceropôle Lyon Auvergne Rhône Alpes (CLARA). In parallel, he is involved in several training actions at the Lyon University (industrial mentor for Beelys) and in different engineering schools as CPE. See Linkedin profile.
Prof. Jean-Marc Paris led the R&D division in charge of antibacterial drug discovery at Rhône Poulenc Rorer (currently Sanofi) before joining Rhodia, where he worked as Scientific Director for organic chemistry and biotechnologies. He then became Professor of medicinal chemistry and biochemistry at the Ecole Nationale Supérieure de Chimie de Paris.
Dr Jean-Claude Florent is Emeritus Director at the Institut Curie in the Research Unit INSERM U1143-CNRS UMR3666 “Chemical Biology of Membranes and Therapeutic Delivery”.
At the Institut Curie, Jean-Claude formerly led the research unit UMR176 “Conception, synthesis and targeting of biomolecules”. His scientific interests lie in the “chemical biology” approaches used for studying living organisms. In particular, Dr. Florent’s team designed and synthesized anticancer compounds that target tumor vessels, serine-threonine kinase inhibitors, as well as protein-protein interaction inhibitors, telomerase and TOPO II inhibitors.
Dr. Florent obtained his doctoral degree in chemistry at the Paris Sud University in1979, as has co-authored 127 peer-reviewed publications and 40 patents.
Dr. Salauze has extensive experience as a pharmaceutical and biotechnology industry executive and venture capital investor in life science companies. He currently serves as Head of FINDMED, a technology transfer program financed by the French government. Players of the local drug industry, FINDMED aims to create close links between a dozen of major national research centers (most notably Institut du Cerveau et de la Moelle, Institut Pasteur, Institut Curie, …).
Dr. Salauze previously held positions at Aventis as Head of a Toxicology Department, then Senior International Marketing Director (Oncology). He has also been a partner at Auriga Ventures, as well as the CEO of Novagali Pharma and Sepal Pharma. Until 2016, Damien served as Tech Transfer Officer at Institut Curie in Paris. He also holds a seat with the Board of Directors of several companies. He has been elected at the French National Academy of Pharmacy, and has been awarded “Chevalier de l’Ordre National du Mérite” by the French Ministry of Research. He obtained his PhD from Institut Pasteur in Paris, and his MBA from Insead.
Louise Chopinet has a PhD in Biophysics from the University of Toulouse and a Masters degree from the Grenoble School of Management where she specialized in biotechnology and management. She has completed her thesis on gene vectorisation methods for cancer treatment and spent a year accompanying start-ups in their development through GATE1, a start-up accelerator in Grenoble born out of the “loi Allègre”. Her multidisciplinary profile fusing science with finance allowed her to join the investment crowd-funding platform WiSEED (Crowd-funding investment consultants licensed under the number 13000606 by ORIAS) in January 2015, bringing her expertise to the development of the Biotech and Health sector. Since 2009, WiSEED has financed a total of 12 start-ups in this sector with a total of 1.9M, and four “biotech” investments in 2015 alone.
Dr. Michel Azoulay is the CEO at Biotech MedPartners, an international consulting firm where for the last ten years he has advised senior executives of both Fortune 500 and specialty pharmaceutical companies on a range of issues such as mergers and acquisitions, research and development strategy and value creation. Michel has been leading many portfolio assessments and transformations and is also renowned for conducting comprehensive due diligence in oncology.
Dr. Azoulay has previously served as the Chief Operating Officer and was in charge of the corporate strategy and the business development for an immuno-oncology company. Michel was also the Oncology Leader and Engagement Manager for IMS Health and has a broad experience in consulting services for more than fifteen years and has managed over 100 consulting engagements.
Prior to IMS, Dr. Azoulay had a successful career at Amgen in Europe, where he has worked for nine years as a senior executive in strategic and business development of oncology drugs.
Michel holds an MBA with high honors from ESCP and earned his MD from Montpellier University of Medicine, France. He has served on many advisory boards of various life science companies and scientific review panels.