Collaborative project extends Rhenovia's innovative CNS biosimulation platform to study of epilepsy

Rhenovia Pharma SAS, a biopharmaceutical company specialized in the development of technologies to optimize the discovery and development of drugs for Alzheimer's and other diseases of the central and peripheral nervous system, has been named leader of RHENEPI, a EUR 2.5 million (USD 3.75M) project. The goals of RHENEPI are to develop and obtain experimental validation for an epilepsy biosimulation platform that can be used for the discovery of new antiepileptic drugs and the optimization of existing drugs.

Rhenovia will lead a consortium consisting of two life science companies and two academic laboratories. SynapCell, a contract research organization from the Grenoble area in France specialized in testing of antiepileptic drugs in in vivo animal models, will work alongside Rhenovia. The two laboratories involved are the Institut de Génomique Fonctionnelle (IGF), Montpellier, under Dr Laurent Fagni, and the Grenoble Institut des Neurosciences (GIN), Grenoble, led by Dr Antoine Depaulis.

This will be the first time a platform has been constructed to simulate erratic neuronal transmission leading to epileptic seizures. The platform will test novel basic molecular and cellular mechanisms associated with epilepsy and aims to rationalize the clinical practice of drug combination therapy in this field.

"RHENEPI gives a significant boost to Rhenovia's finances, allowing us to hire six more researchers, and grow the company," said Serge Bischoff, CEO of Rhenovia Pharma. "What is more, it implies the expansion of our already operational platform, RHENOMS monosynapse, to a multiple synapse and integrated neuron platform. This will allow us to extend Rhenovia's service offer to almost all diseases of the central and peripheral nervous system as well as to identify the safety and toxicity risks of any kind of pharmaceutical treatment associated with a disruption of excitation/inhibition homeostasis."

The contract was awarded by a number of bodies including the French Ministry of Economy and Finance, Alsace BioValley and Lyon Biopôle, two clusters designated by the French government as internationally competitive. It covers a three-year period and will be financed in part by grants from the French state innovation fund, FUI (Fonds Unique Interministériel), the Alsace Region, the city of Mulhouse and its surrounding area, and the Rhone Alpes Region. Rhenovia and SynapCell will provide the balance of the required funds.

RHENEPI was selected from 226 projects competing for funding based on its innovative character, its impact on local economies especially in job creation and its applicability in new markets. RHENEPI will also benefit from having received official recognition as a project with considerable potential. This means it will be eligible for favorable treatment by the administration.

Epilepsy is a common chronic neurological disorder characterized by recurrent unprovoked seizures. About 50 million people worldwide have epilepsy, with almost 90 percent of these people being in developing countries (Source: World Health Organization - 2001). Epilepsy's approximate annual incidence rate is 40–70 per 100,000 in industrialized countries and 100-190 per 100,000 in resource-poor countries (Source: Current Opinion in Neurology - 2003). Epilepsy is more likely to occur in young children, or people over the age of 65 years, however it can occur at any time. Epilepsy is usually controlled, but cannot be cured with medication, although surgery may be considered in difficult cases. However, over 30 percent of people with epilepsy do not have seizure control even with the best available medications.

About Rhenovia Pharma SAS
Rhenovia Pharma SAS is a biopharmaceutical company specialized in the development and optimization of drugs for Alzheimer's and other diseases of the central and peripheral nervous system. It has developed and implemented a unique technology in a biosimulation platform. Rhenovia believes it has developed the first platform to simulate mechanisms involved in learning and memory and in a variety of brain functions related to the balance between excitation and inhibition. More than 90% of drugs in this area are active in the synapse and directly or indirectly on excitation and inhibition. It is making this platform available in its RHEDDOS program, aimed at pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies wishing to extend drug life cycle, develop new drug combinations and identify new targets for therapeutic molecules.

Rhenovia was founded in 2007 to develop new technologies aiming at optimizing the drug discovery and development process of the pharmaceutical and biotechnology industry. In addition to the founders, the company has built a management team that combines extensive scientific and management experience in large pharmaceutical companies. Rhenovia operates presently with a team of 12 employees and six external collaborators, and moved in November 2009 to its own facility in Mulhouse (France). The company has raised around EUR 2 million in investor funding (Alsace Business Angels, SODIV) as well as various government and European Community grants and loans and funding from Rhenovia's founders and team members. Further information on how to partner with Rhenovia is available on the company's website: