Synthelis raises €610,000 to develop
manufacturing services for membrane proteins
6 February 2014
Synthelis, a company specializing in the production and
characterization of therapeutic targets and antigens, has secured
initial backing of €610,000 from a group of French investors
comprising Rhone-Alpes Creation, Alpes Developpement Durable
Investissement (A2D-Invest), Sud Rhone-Alpes Capital, Viaduc and the
Savoy and Grenoble Business Angels networks.
The aim of this initial round of funding is to speed up the
development of toll manufacturing services for membrane proteins for
use by R&D departments in the pharmaceutical and biotechnology
industries. The funding also gives the company scope to consolidate
and expand its functional and structural characterization services.
“This investment is an important step for Synthelis, allowing us
to strengthen our team of scientists and invest in essential new
equipment to optimize production and enhance our services,” explains
Bruno Tillier, CEO of Synthelis. “Synthelis can now accelerate its
commercial development, both in France and internationally.”
Founded in 2011 by Bruno Tillier to build on Professor Jean-Luc
Lenormand's work at the TIMC-TheREx laboratory, part of the
Universite Joseph Fourier in Grenoble, France, Synthelis develops
and leverages an innovative patented technology for the acellular
production of membrane proteins in the presence of liposomes. The
technology preserves the structure and the natural properties of
these molecules, along with their ‘transportability’. This removes a
major technological stumbling block in bio-production: previously,
faithful reproductions of natural membrane proteins were difficult
to manufacture in sufficient quantities.
Membrane proteins account for 60% of current therapeutic targets.
These membrane proteins (so called because they are embedded in the
membrane which separates the cell's internal and external
environments) play a role in ensuring that the cell – and therefore
the organism as a whole – functions properly.
Membrane protein abnormalities are also implicated in many
diseases such as cancers, neuro-degenerative diseases and metabolic,
genetic, immune and inflammatory disorders. In 2012, the market in
which Synthelis currently operates — R&D services for the
pharmaceutical industry — was valued at EUR 20 billion, with an
annual growth rate of 13 per cent (source: Equity Research).
“We are pleased to be contributing to the development plans of
what is a very promising young company. This is a classic case of a
start-up founded on a technology coming out of a university
laboratory needing financial support to make its mark as a leader in
its field. The role of regional funds such as Rhone Alpes Creation
and the Business Angels is to help innovative businesses like
Synthelis,” adds Gwenael Hamon, senior business manager at Rhone
In two years, Synthelis has produced over 50 membrane proteins as
part of more than 20 projects undertaken in conjunction with
internationally-renowned pharmaceutical organizations. The success
rate for protein expression across all the work undertaken by
Synthelis to date is in excess of 90 per cent.
The company says that once the initial commercial objectives have
been achieved, new investment is planned in order to industrialize
Synthelis’ acellular procedure and consolidate its leading position
in this market. The funding will open up the market for contract
manufacturing services, complementing and ensuring continuity with
the existing contract research offering.