Interview with L’Express regarding the development of our anti-skin cancer drug using Ambaville plant

Jan 05, 2019 – As published on L’Express

In love with her native Reunion Island, Anne Laure, 36, returned there a few years ago after training at the Pierre and Marie Curie University in Paris. On her land, among the 16,000 plant species in the national park, she found ambaville, an extraordinary plant that until now was known mainly to local “tisaneurs” who prescribe it in the form of infusions to treat skin or digestion problems.

In her laboratory at the Cyclotron Réunion Océan Indien (CYROI), the biotech nursery of the Saint-Denis Technopole, Anne Laure Morel has taken this grandmother’s remedy over for a much more scientific use. She has thus applied her expertise as a materials chemist to this plant, which concentrates many antioxidant molecules. And uses it as a bio-reducer contributing to the manufacture of gold nanoparticles.

These can then be injected into a tumor, which will then be irradiated with infrared radiation. The release of heat destroys the cancer cells without harming the rest of the body. The treatment is targeted, as opposed to chemotherapy. This innovation is currently being tested on mice.

Ambaville Plant used in the development of our anti-skin cancer drug

The ambaville plant

Its ambition is to find an alternative to current treatments. This is why, in 2015, it created the Torskal startup, a local flagship in the field of nano-medicine. This pioneer has attracted many renowned scientific partners. She collaborates with the laboratory of the University of Paris 13 but also with researchers in Germany, China, and soon in India.

Awarded a prize in 2017 as part of the French Tech Tour in India, a few months ago Torskal signed a partnership with the Chongqing Military Hospital in China to deploy a phototherapy bench and carry out regulatory pre-clinical trials. If all goes well, tests on humans will begin in three years and the first molecules will be commercialized in about ten years.