The Nanothéranostic project, NT1 is the first and main program carried by TORSKAL. It relates to the treatment of skin cancers by photothermal therapy. The product is a class 3 medical device, consisting of gold nanoparticles designed by green chemistry which should be tested for the first time on humans in 2021.

Skin cancers are the most common cancers worldwide among the Caucasian population and even if the mortality is low, it can cause significant morbidity primarily through local destruction. We believe photothermal therapy will help to efficiently treat these diseases with a lower morbidity.

Gold nanoparticles entering a melanoma cell

Gold nanoparticles entering a melanoma cell

Using Hubertia ambavilla aqueous extract, an endemic plant from Reunion Island, as a reducer and a stabilizer, gold nanoparticles are greenly synthetized according a patented process. Then a coat of glucose, a sugar overconsume by cancerous cells (Warburg effect), is added to the gold nanoparticles, permitting an efficient and quick internalization in targeted cells.

Gold nanoparticles are inert for both healthy and cancerous cells without further intervention. Nevertheless, under a near-infrared laser (also inert if use alone), gold nanoparticles will undergo photothermal heating, resulting in selective hyperthermic cell death, without heating of the adjacent non-tumoral tissue. This double targeting (of gold nanoparticles on one side and the laser on the other side) will permit a decrease of side effect in comparison with current strategy.

Impact of the glucose coat for gold nanoparticles internalization in melanoma cells - Left

Impact of the glucose coat for gold nanoparticles internalization in melanoma cells without glucose

Impact of the glucose coat for gold nanoparticles internalization in melanoma cells with glucose

Furthermore, due to their high electron density, gold nanoparticles are also a powerful contrast marker which permit to better visualize the tumour. Green nanotheranostics (nano for therapy and diagnostic) to better diagnose, monitor and cure differently high unmet needs cancers, leveraging physical properties of non-toxic nanoparticles. NT1 is the most advanced NT project. All the preclinical studies have been validated and the product show no toxicity at any level and a good anti-tumour activity by inducting hyperthermia in both in vitro and in vivo experiments.

Torskal’s gold nanoparticles are now undergoing regulatory supervision by French authorities (ANSM) in order to start a phase 1 clinical trial as medical device class III during the second semester of 2021. Clinical trials will be performed both in France and la Réunion. Designing nanovectors using green chemistry is co-financed by the European Union and the Réunion Region (FEDER 1.15). A postdoc was also co-financed on this same research program (FEDER 1.16).

The NT project also benefited from funding from MESR (CIR) and BPI France (recoverable advance).

Therapeutic approach:

  • Smooth Near InfraRed approach (vs. X Rays)

  • Tumor cell death with apoptosis vs. toxic necrosis

  • Early efficacy

  • Low volume of NPs injected in one-single injection

  • Down to micro tumor cells targeting

  • Less scars

Scientific partners: LCSNSA (Université de la Réunion), GIP CYROI, CSPBAT (Sorbonne Nord Université), Institut Pasteur, Groupe de santé Clinifutur, Mybiotech, Pharmjet MJR, A&O Pharma, Leads to development, Filab, Université Sorbonne

Patent: 2016 – Gold nanoparticles and ecological preparation process, Patent FR 16/50520, PCT / FR2017 / 050131