Sharing Hemarina experience
Hémarina is a biotechnology company based in Morlaix (France) created in 2007 by Franck Zal, an established specialist in the field of marine invertebrate haemoglobin. The technology is protected by several patents and has been used to develop a range of products, including HEMO2Ling® an oxygenating dressing, HEMO2Life® used for organ preservation and HEMOXYcarrier®, a blood substitute used for emergency treatment.
A fruitfull collaboration
In January 2011, Hémarina needed to study the persistence or accumulation of HEMOXYcarrier® in the body. “We were looking for a non-radioactive method for tracing the product in the body. CRITT Santé Bretagne put us in contact with the SynNanoVect facility,” explained Franck Zal.
SynNanoVect is a facility, based in Brest and in Rennes (France) and part of the Biogenouest network, which develops gene synthesis vectors, mainly lipids, for the transfer in vitro and in vivo of genes and biomolecules. For this study, extracellular haemoglobin was marked using fluorophores and then injected into mice to study its distribution in the body.
“To meet Hémarina’s requirements, we developed a non-invasive tracing technique for small animals, which has extended the technologies available at SynVanoVect. The analytical systems also had to be adapted to enable them to handle the small volumes of blood taken from the mice and measure the concentrations required for the study (inflammatory markers, liver function, etc),” explained Tristan Montier, manager of the facility. “Working with small volumes avoids sacrificing the animals and makes it possible to carry out the experiment more precisely while working with a smaller number of mice.”
Hémarina and SynNanoVect appointed Auréline Lotte, studying for a Master II in Genetics, Genomics and Biotechnology, to undertake the project. She helped to develop the system for marking haemoglobin with fluorophores.
Franck Zal was very satisfied with the results of the study: “This new in vivo approach has confirmed that the product is not toxic, that it does not accumulate in any particular organ and that it is degraded in five days by the liver and the pancreas, like the haemoglobin contained in human red corpuscles which have a life time of 120 days.”
For SynNanoVect, this project contributed to the development of new skills, in particular grafting fluorophores onto proteins to study biodistribution. “This has already been the subject of publications,” said Tristan Montier. A publication is also being prepared on the company and the SynNanoVect team. He also emphasised: “A lot can be learned from working with industry. Account must be taken of industrial requirements, in particular deadlines and the form in which the results need to be produced.” SynNanoVect is adopting a quality approach and should obtain certification to ISO 9001 in 2012