Scientific manager of the FRI Cluster Auvergne Rhône-Alpes BIORCELL 3D project
Mahchid BAMDAD, researcher in cell biology at the IUT of Clermont-Ferrand, is the UCA scientific manager of the regional Biorcell 3D project. In this context, Mahchid and his team are developing tumor-like 3D cell cultures or large-scale differentiated primary cultures for pre-clinical and clinical applications.
Can you tell us about the Biorcell 3D project?
The Biorcell 3D project aims to produce tumor-like three-dimensional (3D) cell cultures and differentiated primary cultures on a large scale. This is a three-way collaborative project involving the two companies Biomarkers SAS and Biopass SAS (located in Riom) and our “Résistance” research group (located at the IUT), attached to team 2 of the UMR INSERM 1240 Molecular Imaging and Theranostic Strategies (IMoST) – UCA. For two years, we have been collaborating with these two companies on various projects. Biopass has developed a synthetic cell culture medium called “OPTI-3D”, which no longer requires the addition of fetal calf serum (an uncontrolled biological product). The added value of this synthetic medium lies in the fact that its constituent elements are known (a controlled medium). As part of the Biorcell 3D project, we used the “OPTI-3D” medium to develop 3D cell cultures from triple negative breast cancer cell lines. We also have other collaborative projects in progress, leading in particular to an imminent filing of an invention disclosure on another project entitled “Lightspot”, which will be the subject of a joint UCA-INSERM-Biomarkers SAS patent. . For these projects, the company also financed the hiring of a laboratory technician and two work-study trainees in the 2nd year of the Master’s in Health Engineering, biomedical diagnostics course (DiaMed). One of them, moreover, will continue his research work in thesis, financed by the BIORCELL 3D project.
What was the interest of this call for projects for you?
This was the Regional Innovation Cluster 2 Fund (FRI 2) of the Auvergne Rhône Alpes Region in 2017. A call for projects that fit with the structuring of our consortium made up of an academic laboratory and two companies. He brought us the necessary funding for the start of the project. From a scientific point of view, BIORCELL 3D will allow us to develop new diagnostic tools for carrying out drug screening tests. In addition, the pooling and association of academic & private skills is an added value allowing time savings, in terms of valuation, direct transfer of technologies to partner companies, as well as the marketing of products finished.
What would you advise a candidate for this call for projects?
Not to hesitate and make the effort to understand all the different actors. I am thinking in particular of the industrial environment, it is a culture completely different from that of the university. Indeed, for us academics, the purpose is scientific dissemination through publications. While for manufacturers, it is the marketing of finalized technologies. Despite these differences, these objectives can be achieved through teamwork and listening to each other and convincing each other. Furthermore, I would also like to point out that we were able to achieve our objectives thanks to the support of the Project Engineering Department (SIP) of the Research and Valorization Department of the UCA. They supported and accompanied us on the framing of the project in relation to the expectations of the Region and on the administrative and financial aspects. For me, the project team is made up of 4 entities: the Resistance group, the 2 companies and the SIP.
Does Biorcell 3D open up new perspectives for you?
Yes, now I intend to do so-called finalized research. Before, for me, the finalization of our research projects resulted in the production of publications. Now I want to have results that we can also transfer, for a more concrete and useful application. It’s a really different way of looking at things. Indeed, while developing our fundamental and applied research projects, we are attentive to the needs of companies, in order to meet them. This is a real interaction/collaboration. And it is even a value that I already apply within the Master DiaMed that I founded. A unique training in France, in total interaction with the socio-professional environment and which benefits from 100% professional integration and/or continuation of studies in thesis. I believe that in a way, we are laying the foundations for the university of tomorrow, by promoting partnerships with the private sector which creates jobs for our students. As I said, on the Biorcell 3D project, this public/private synergy represents three fixed-term jobs and prospects for many future jobs: our doctoral student, currently doing her thesis within the “Resistance” group, is assured, from the obtaining his doctorate at the end of 2018, a job on a permanent contract as a project manager in the partner company. This represents a total success for me!