Alsace competitiveness cluster
© Alsace Biovalley The École supérieure de biotechnologie Strasbourg, a partner of the Alsatian competitiveness cluster.
© Alsace Biovalley
The École supérieure de biotechnologie Strasbourg, a partner of the Alsatian competitiveness cluster.
In 2005 the government created 67 competitiveness clusters which bring together businesses and academics in a common, cooperative effort within a geographical area (see CNRS International Magazine N°1). They will share a minimum budget of €1.5 billion for three years. Ten clusters were classified as “World class projects.” Among these, the Alsatian “Therapeutic Innovations” site is dedicated "to finding innovative solutions to the major challenges arising in healthcare over the next 30 years," says Sylvie Debra, the director of Alsace Biovalley, the regional biotechnology promotion agency behind the project. "Our goal is also to boost economic development in the sector.” The site should create 90 new companies and 5000 jobs in the medical biotechnology field over the next ten years. Its governing association is chaired by Professor Jacques Marescaux who, in 2001, performed the first long-distance surgical procedure, operating from
The healthcare sector is indeed at a crossroads. The pharmaceutical industry is in urgent need of new therapeutic molecules. Meanwhile, a technological revolution is in the making in the field of surgery and patient care, the upshot of the combined effect of robotics, medical imaging, and new information technologies.
a very active region
The region is further invigorated by a very active public research sector. IRCAD,1 the number-one teaching center in the world for mini-invasive surgery (without opening the patient's body), welcomes over 3000 surgeons a year from five continents. Other prestigious organizations include the
In the drugs sector, investments are concentrated around three major therapeutic targets. The first is G-protein coupled receptors (GPCRs), a family which remains largely unexplored, notably in the treatment of anxiety, depression, schizophrenia and Alzheimer's disease. The second target is protein kinases, involved in controlling cellular proliferation and differentiation, deficiencies of which could cause diseases like cancer. The third target is nuclear hormone receptors, involved in controlling metabolism. Understanding their role in diabetes, obesity, and cancer may spur important advances.
The people behind the Alsatian “Therapeutic Innovations” site are optimistic. “Our portfolio includes many projects at different stages of the development process,” says Jean-Luc Dimarcq, projects director for the site. “Around ten are at the final phase of evaluation which corresponds to a total cumulative budget of over €50 millions.”
1. IRCAD, Institute for Research Against Digestive Tract Cancers, Strasbourg, France). www.ircad.fr
2. Institut de science et d'ingénierie supramoléculaires (CNRS Institute / Université Louis Pasteur)
3. Institut de génétique et de biologie moléculaire et cellulaire (CNRS Institute / Inserm / Université Louis Pasteur). www-igbmc.u-strasbg.fr/
Projects Director, “Therapeutic Innovations” site, Strasbourg.