Clinatec has announced an international, €30 million fund drive to help support its work in diagnosis and treatment of neurodegenerative diseases, cancer and motor disabilities. Founded in 2009 by Prof. Alim Louis Benabid, a pioneer in developing deep brain stimulation for the treatment of Parkinson’s disease, and Jean Therme, director of CEA, the French Alternative Energies and Atomic Energy Commission, Clinatec brings together a multidisciplinary team of more than 100 doctors, researchers, biologists and scientists in labs.
Benabid, chairman of Clinatec, received a Breakthrough Prize in 2015, was a co-recipient of the 2014 Lasker~DeBakey Clinical Medical Research Award, and received the 2013 Robert A. Pritzker Prize for Leadership in Parkinson’s Research, presented by The Michael J. Fox Foundation.
“Professor Benabid’s contributions to the field of Parkinson’s disease research, and to improving lives of those living with the disease, are well-documented. Deep brain stimulation remains a viable option for many with PD, and one that can offer life-altering results,” said Todd Sherer, CEO of The Michael J. Fox Foundation. Benabid said Clinatec’s goal is to build on previous medical and scientific advances with micro- and nanotechnologies to accelerate the development and use of innovative treatments for some of humankind’s most debilitating and costly diseases.
“To this end, Clinatec was founded on a unique business model that combines the talents and expertise of a very broad range of professionals, which gives us the flexibility to approach treatments and cures from promising, new vantage points,” he said.
Clinatec’s current projects include:
Adapting a brain-computer interface to an exoskeleton system to provide mobility to quadriplegics. Clinatec teams already have demonstrated the feasibility of controlling equipment attached to the body and connected to the human cortex. This project awaits human trials.
The start of clinical trials for the Near Infrared Radiation (NIR) project, which is investigating the progress of Parkinson’s disease through the neuro-protective effect of near infrared light. When applied to the precise spot in the brain where PD and other diseases cause irreversible damage, near-infrared radiation can prevent damage. By protecting the neurons, this process could avoid the gradual degradation of the patient’s faculties and the major disabilities that follow. An intracranial NIR system is currently under development.
The fund-raising campaign is led by Alain Mérieux, chairman of Institut Merieux, an international medicine and public health concern focused on diagnostics, immunotherapy and nutrition. “Since its beginning, the Mérieux Institute has worked on developing biology and innovative medicine that is accessible to all. This is an ambition we share with Clinatec, one of the world’s most unique research centers,” Mérieux said. “Together with Clinatec, we are taking part in the fight against diseases that can affect all of us, and by supporting Clinatec, we are joining a great scientific, medical and human initiative.”
The Edmond J. Safra Foundation, which has supported Clinatec since its creation, has pledged to match up to €5 million in donations raised by June 30, 2016. “Professor Benabid and his colleagues represent hope for millions of patients and their families. Many thanks to those who will join in bringing their support to their endeavor,” Mrs. Lily Safra commented. In addition to CEA support, Clinatec’s teams include personnel from the Grenoble University Hospital Centre, Université Joseph Fourier and INSERM.