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Start-up - Harmonic Pharma

Interview with Michel Souchet and Stéphane Gégout

Harmonic Pharma

Harmonic Pharma is developing a solution to extend the therapeutic use of molecules existing on the market. The business was created by two people with rather atypical profiles in the world of start-ups, since they do not come from academic research. It is their pharmaceutical industry research know-how, for one, and the development of innovative technologies, for the other, that allow them to develop computing solutions offering new prospects to existing drugs. An offering with international reach that covers numerous therapeutic fields. Interview with Michel Souchet and Stéphane Gégout, respectively chairman and managing director of Harmonic Pharma.

What was your respective career up until the creation of the start-up?

Michel Souchet

Michel Souchet : I had a university career in medicinal chemistry with a dissertation at Paris 6 and a postdoc at a Californian pharmaceutical company. I then held various R&D positions within international pharmaceutical groups covering a period of around twenty years. It is as part of this that I collaborated with members of Inria Nancy - Grand Est and especially Dr. Bernard Maigret of the ORPAILLEUR  team (led by Amedeo Napoli), whose research work focuses on medically guided structural bioinformatics. In 2007, after five years of collaboration, a period during which we carried out tests, I decided to approach this team in order to carry out the technology transfer related to this work. Stéphane Gégout joined me at the end of 2008 to expand the team on the Lorrain incubator's initiative, which supported me from the start of the technology transfer process and to which I had expressly indicated my desire to round out the team with a person with business creation experience.

Stéphane Gégout

Stéphane Gégout : I had six years of experience as an innovative product developer within the industry, in the healthcare and hospital sector. After completing post-graduate studies in organization intelligence consulting, in 2003, I worked on the development of the Inria ECOO project team in research on Internet services. I then had the opportunity to devote myself in 2005 to other development duties (Université Joseph Fourier/ Grenoble INP) at the Grenoble-MINATEC site (Innovation campus for micro- and nanotechnologies).

Where is the start-up now?

Michel Souchet : Our first two contracts are signed: one with a client of reference in the Paris region and the other in the nervous system field. The 2010/2012 industrialization program was completed with a 360,000 euro round table finalized during summer 2010. Harmonic Pharma is an active member of Bioprocol (BIOactives PROduced in LORraine), which works on pathologies related to inflammation (Alzheimer's and cancer ), a field selected by the agency for economic mobilization of the regional council of Lorraine. The company also participated in phase 1 of the Bill  & Melinda Gates Foundation  call for proposals to support research in the fight against AIDS. We are working with a network of African partners to implement prescription assistance software that takes into account the mutations of the virus in infected patients in order to improve the efficiency of triple therapies.

What role does Inria play in the development of Harmonic Pharma?

Stéphane Gégout : The company is currently housed by the technology transfer branch of Inria Nancy - Grand Est. We will reinforce the development of our technology with the institute, which remains an indispensable partner of the start-up. This partnership is reflected particularly by our scientific advisors, all associated with the ORPAILLEUR  team: Bernard Maigret, CNRS research director, Marie-Dominique Devignes, CNRS research manager, Dave Ritchie, Inria research director, and Violeta Pérez-Nueno, Inria associate researcher.

TECH FOCUS

The company Harmonic Pharma (HpH) has created the HARMONIC  REPOSITIONING  solution, which involves proposing a new therapeutic use for an active ingredient in a field where it is not yet patented. The technology developed and used in-house relies on a description of molecular objects (active ingredients, proteins) based on a mathematical approach using spherical harmonics. This efficient method of numerical simulation permits large-scale comparison with molecules of therapeutic interest, indexed on the global level and classified in the databases developed by the company. It is thus possible to identify new pairs – molecule/molecule and/or molecule/protein – that open the way to therapeutic potential that could be explored. Harmonic Pharma's target: the pharmaceutical industry, biotechnology companies, and, generally, any organization with a portfolio of molecules of therapeutic interest.

Keywords: Harmonic Pharma Michel Souchet Stéphane Gégout Drug industries Health Start-ups

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