Melissa Juried Kriebel
This article was originally published in April 2016 and authored by Denise Neves Gameiro. It has since been updated to reflect the latest news.
Paris may attract tourist masses, but it also attracts a lot of biotech enthusiasts. In this guide, we explore 15 interesting biotech companies in Paris.
Paris is one of the biggest biotech clusters in Europe, with a wide range of applications being developed from drug discovery and medical devices to synthetic biology and green energy. And it is expected to grow further, with the French government investing €7.5 billion last year in a bid to make France the center of European health innovation by 2030.
To start making sense of Paris’ biotech landscape, here is a list of the 15 biotech companies in Paris that you should definitely know, presented in alphabetical order.
Table of contents
Abivax is a phase 3 clinical-stage biotech that aims to modulate the body’s immune system through its immune enhancing and antiviral platforms to treat chronic inflammatory diseases, viral infections and cancer.
The company’s lead candidate entered phase 3 trials this month for the treatment of ulcerative colitis. Other drugs in clinical trials are targeting rheumatoid arthritis, Crohn’s disease and hepatocellular carcinoma. Abivax also has multiple preclinical programs for viral infections such as respiratory syncytial virus and influenza.
Abivax listed on Euronext Paris with an IPO of €58 million in 2015, and now has a market cap of over €200 million.
Carmat aims to be the primary alternative to heart transplants with its fully artificial heart for patients that have suffered end-stage heart failure. The product, called Aeson, is only commercially available in Europe. In 2020, Carmat received approval from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to start a clinical feasibility study on 10 patients.
Listed on Euronext Paris, this biotech company has a market cap of €255 million. Earlier this year, Carmat raised €40.5 million to fund its operations.
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 tailor-made for each patient, saving time and money. The company has also developed a mechanism to make the therapy safer by switching off the cells when side effects become life-threatening.
Cellectis has six off-the-shelf therapies in clinical trials, with three licensed to Servier and Allogene Therapeutics. Its lead candidate is being tested in phase 1 clinical trials for the treatment of hematological malignancies expressing the biomarker CD19.
The biotech company trades on the Nasdaq and the Euronext Paris stock exchanges with a combined market cap of over €220 million.
DBV Technologies was the first French biotech to be listed on the Nasdaq in 2014. Today, it has a market cap of nearly €300 million. 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 3 development. Other allergies being targeted include milk and egg allergies, which are in phase 2 and preclinical development, respectively. Beyond food allergies, DBV is also targeting inflammatory and autoimmune disorders as well as the applicability of the skin patch technology for vaccines.
DNA Script is developing a new method of synthesizing DNA — called enzymatic DNA synthesis — 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 can help reduce cost and enable more applications, from synthetic biology to using DNA as data storage. Just last year, DNA Script launched its commercial benchtop printer that allows scientists to print DNA on-demand.
Founded in 2014, the company raised nearly €200 million in a Series C fundraising earlier this year. 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 first-in-class drugs using proteins and peptides derived from bacteria of the gut microbiome, which in the last decade has been increasingly linked to human health. Specifically, the company aims to decode the interactions between the microbiome and the immune system, and has developed three drug pipelines targeting cancer, inflammatory diseases and allergies.
Enterome’s most advanced program — an off-the-shelf therapeutic vaccine comprising three bacterial peptides for the treatment of recurrent glioblastoma and adrenal tumors — is being co-developed with Bristol Myers Squibb in phase 2. The company has three other candidates targeting cancer, all consisting of bacterial antigens that activate the immune system to attack cancer cells.
Enterome is also developing other drugs for Crohn’s disease and food allergies with Takeda and Nestlé Health Science. 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 lead candidates are intended for two sight-threatening rare diseases: Leber hereditary optic neuropathy (LHON), a rare mitochondrial disease that causes irreversible loss of vision; and retinitis pigmentosa (RP), where cells in the retina break down over time.
Lumevoq, delivered as a single intravitreal injection to the eye for the treatment of LHON, has already been submitted for marketing approval in Europe. Meanwhile, their gene therapy for RP is undergoing a phase 2/3 trial.
GenSight is not the only company in Paris in this space. Coave Therapeutics and Eyevensys are also two remarkable biotech companies in Paris working on gene therapies for blindness. Coave’s lead candidate is in phase 1/2 trials for the treatment of inherited retinal dystrophy while Eyevensys’s non-viral gene therapy platform has been validated in patients with non-infectious uveitis.
This French biotech company is listed on Euronext Paris with a market cap of over €150 million.
Global Bioenergies is developing a more sustainable process to produce isobutene and other chemicals from plant-derived resources to service the cosmetic industry, as well as the energy and materials sectors.
The company has recently finished construction of a plant that can produce isobutene in tens of tonnes per year. Part of this isobutene is converted to isododecane and sold as a make-up ingredient to major players in the cosmetics industry, such as L’Oréal.
The company is still scaling up its production methods, and is gearing up for the construction and commissioning of another plant in 2025 that can produce 2,000 tonnes of isobutene and derivatives per year. Once they are able to produce tens of thousands of tonnes of isobutene at a reduced cost, Global Bioenergies plans to target the aviation fuel market, which will help reduce CO2 emissions.
Global Bioenergies has a market cap of over €64 million on Euronext Growth in Paris.
Lysogene was founded in 2009 by Karen Aiach after her daughter was diagnosed with Sanfilippo syndrome, a rare disease of the central nervous system (CNS) with no treatment available beyond palliative care. Lysogene aims to improve the lives of children with CNS diseases using gene therapy that is delivered directly into the brain.
Two of the company’s drugs for the rare diseases Sanfilippo syndrome and GM1 gangliosidosis have already gained Orphan Drug, Rare Pediatric Disease and Fast Track designations by the FDA; both are undergoing phase 2/3 and 1/2 clinical trials, respectively.
Lysogene currently has a market cap of around €8.5 million.
Nanobiotix is developing a first-in-class radioenhancer composed of hafnium oxide nanoparticles that can amplify and focus radiotherapy in patients with cancer. Called NBTXR3, this radioenhancer is activated by radiotherapy and fits into the existing standard of care through a single administration.
NBTXR3 has been evaluated in 14 clinical trials – seven of which are currently active across six different cancer indications – and was approved by the European Medicines Agency (EMA) in 2019 for soft tissue sarcoma. That same year, NBTXR3 was granted Fast Track designation by the U.S. FDA to investigate it for the treatment of locally advanced head and neck squamous cell cancer in patients that are not eligible for platinum-based chemotherapy.
Nanobiotix has a market cap of €130 million on Euronext Paris.
Onxeo was born in 2014 when the French company BioAlliance Pharma merged with the Danish firm Topotarget.
Onxeo’s small molecule drug, Beleodaq, is a histone deacetylase inhibitor that received orphan designation from the EMA in 2012 and has been marketed in the U.S. since 2014 for the treatment of peripheral T-cell lymphoma.
Recently however, Onxeo has been engaged in developing drugs that target the DNA repair functions of tumors. Their approach is to interfere with the DNA damage response (DDR) by developing DDR decoy agonists and 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 is currently being tested in several trials, including a phase 2 trial for the treatment of relapsed ovarian cancer, with a phase 2 trial planned for solid tumors. The drug is being tested alone and in combination with chemotherapy and other types of cancer drugs.
OSE Immunotherapeutics seeks to modulate the immune system in three areas: immuno-oncology, autoimmunity and inflammation, and T-cell based vaccines.
OSE’s most advanced treatment is a therapeutic vaccine that consists of a combination of nine fragments of cancer antigens that stimulate T cells to attack cancer cells that express at least one of these antigens. It has been evaluated in phase 3 trials for non-small cell lung cancer and is being tested in phase 2 and in combination with other cancer drugs for ovarian and pancreatic cancer. In its autoimmune pipeline, the most advanced treatment is undergoing phase 2 trials in ulcerative colitis.
The company is also exploring the potential of artificial intelligence in drug discovery via collaborations with the French institution Léon Bérard Center, and the French firm MAbSilico. Earlier this year, OSE was selected by Microsoft France to be a partner of its support program for French Biotech & Deeptech Startups to help OSE further develop its AI and algorithmic tools.
OSE has signed partnerships with Boehringer Ingelheim, Servier and Veloxis Pharmaceuticals for up to €1.6 billion, and has a market cap of €126 million on Euronext Paris.
Pharnext is a biopharma company developing combinations of existing drugs that could treat neurodegenerative 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 3 trial for the treatment of the rare neurological condition Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease in late 2018. However, due to an unexpected formulation problem, the U.S. FDA and EMA requested an additional phase 3 trial, which is currently underway.
The company is also testing a different drug combination for the treatment of Alzheimer’s disease, which has completed phase 2a trials, and the rare condition amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, which is entering phase 2a.
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 €50 million in a Series C round in 2021. The company is currently working on bringing their biomorphic and programmable polymers to market for a wide range of applications, including nerve reconstruction, hernia repair and localized drug delivery.
Founded in 2011 in Paris, Ÿnsect provides products for the agro-food and environmental biotech industries using insects as a resource. The company grows mealworms in vertical farms and transforms them into natural protein solutions for pets, fish, plants and even humans.
A 60 percent gap between supply and demand for protein is projected by 2050. To help meet this demand, Ÿnsect is developing an organic, carbon-negative and long-term sustainable solution.
The company already sells ingredients using the lesser mealworm in several products found across Europe, and is poised to scale up production once the greenlight from the European Commission comes through — the insect has already received positive assessment by the European Food Safety Authority for human consumption.
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