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50 Leading Companies of The Year 2020

Neuro-Sys: Developing Advanced in-vitro Models and Innovative Drugs to Treat Neurodegenerative Diseases

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"The challenge always remains that as we grow we need to maintain our levels of R & D, which is the heart of the business, for our own comprehension and so that we can continually anticipate our clients’ needs, and to propose innovative and relevant models of pathologies."

The brain is an extremely complex organ with vast numbers of pathways that allow us to do the amazing things that we do. The cells of the brain are closely connected and miscommunications in one area can disrupt other brain activities. Although there are many diseases and illnesses that can affect the brain, the most complicated of these are neurodegenerative which result in neuronal death. They can influence an individual’s movement, speech, memory, thinking, and much more. The causes of many of these remain a mystery. Therefore treating neurodegenerative disorders is not an easy task as it requires precise drugs and the knowledge of the complex pathophysiological mechanisms.

Neuro-Sys is an innovative French drug discovery and services company which focuses mainly on neurodegenerative diseases, such as Alzheimer’s disease (AD), Parkinson’s disease (PD), Huntington’s disease (HD), Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS or Lou Gehrig’s disease) Multiple Sclerosis (MS), Peripheral Neuropathies…. The firm develops specific preclinical models of neurological diseases to accurately determine the pharmacological profiling of lead compounds and explore their underlying mechanism of action, with automated and standardized processes.

The company was founded in 2013 and is based in France and USA.

In Conversation with Dr. Noelle Callizot, Neuro-Sys Co-founder & Chief Scientific Officer

What was the reason behind the genesis of Neuro-Sys?

The company was set up in order to meet the demand for Contract Research Services (CRO) in the area of CNS (Central Nervous System) and PNS (Peripheral Nervous System). Our clients were attracted by our strength in R & D and the fact that we’re constantly refining our knowledge of the pathological pathways involved in neuronal death – why and how neurons are dying is the heart of our research.

How successful was your first project roll on?

We started a collaborative project to develop our three-dimensional Blood Brain Barrier (BBB) model in 2015 to assess whether compounds can cross the blood-brain barrier and introduced it in 2017. This model allows us to quickly pre-assess whether a compound has any prospect of being used as a treatment before any other tests are performed, and is the only pathological BBB model on the market.

What challenges did you face in the initial years?

As a business which is highly dependent on R & D, it was a challenge in the early days because we had to develop new validated models in order to be able to provide the services to our clients. We’ve grown because of our strong research and because of our leading automated platforms that allow us to perform tests at pace robustly and consistently for our clients.

The challenge always remains that as we grow we need to maintain our levels of R & D, which is the heart of the business, for our own comprehension and so that we can continually anticipate our clients’ needs, and to propose innovative and relevant models of pathologies.

How do you stay relevant to the clients’ interests and needs in this highly volatile market?

We conduct our own R & D in order to develop new models that align with clients’ and authorities’ needs. That’s what keeps us ahead – constantly developing and evolving. For example, we will be offering in vivo services from the spring with new models we’re currently in the process of validating. This is a natural step for us and has also come at the request of our clients.

What makes your company stand out from the competition?

We stay at the forefront of the industry because we’re constantly refining our mode of action models, which our partners trust. Plus, our robotized platforms allow increased frequency and automated robust results that can be replicated reliably. We can do that only because we have high level neuropharmacological expertise in house. We also accompany our clients along the drug development process providing guidance and expertise beyond the preclinical stage.

If you have to list five factors that have been/are the biggest asset to your organization, what would they be and why?

The five factors that have had the most influence on our company’s success are:

  • First, the range of expertise we offer; we have dedicated researchers including best-in-class neuropharmacologists, physicians, neurologists, and scientists with biotech backgrounds,
  • Experience is the key! We have over 20 years of experience in the field of neurodegenerative diseases,
  • Our preclinical models that mimic the pathology of CNS diseases – in particular, Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s – are exceptional
  • We maintain our position by continuing in-house research to develop our own understanding of the pathological pathways.
  • Finally, we invest in the latest equipment that we adapt for our own automatized platforms which enable us to provide the most advanced and robust services for our clients.

Do you have any new services ready to be launched?

In the spring, our range of services will extend to in vivo. This is a natural step for us to take. However, it is important that we stay focused on the science we have developed in vitro, and that in vivo validates and enhances it, and that we’re closing in on the answers - the pathology and the mechanisms involved in neuronal death.

Where do you see your company a couple of years from now?

Our in vivo services move is a key focus for us, so that we provide new validated models to the industry. And we continue to perform our own research in order to close in on the options for treatments. Last July, we also announced a new collaboration with Gain Therapeutics which is funded by a €1.4m grant support from Eurostars-2. This is a great opportunity to develop innovative platforms and to get a better understanding of the mechanisms of rare diseases of the CNS and especially to study the role of the lysosome in the neuronal death.

Dr Noelle Callizot : Leading the search for answers

Dr. Noelle Callizot, Co-founder, serves as the Chief Scientific Officer (CSO) of Neuro-Sys. She is an international expert in the pharmaceutical and biotech industries. For the last 20 years, Dr. Callizot has been involved in the pharmaceutical development of neuroactive molecules up to the advanced clinical stage. As Director of Neuropharmacology in the UK for six years, she led various programs in neurodegenerative diseases (Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, etc.) up to phase-3. She is Co-founder of four biotech companies in fields as varied as contract research, functional neurorehabilitation, screening, and neuroactive molecules. Dr. Callizot holds the chair of the AFM TELETHON pharmacology commission. She also chairs several strategic programs for the AFM.

“Our preclinical models that mimic the pathology of CNS diseases – in particular, Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s – are exceptional.”