Mutabilis, a spin-off from INSERM that focuses on therapeutics for treating serious, hospital-acquired infections, has received $5.2 million of European funding for the HIVINNOV project, aimed at developing new antiretrovirals against HIV.
The Mutabilis project, known as "Generation of a new class of antiretrovirals targeting HIV-cellular cofactors interactions," or HIVINNOV, entails the development of new anti-HIV antiretrovirals up to the phase IIa clinical trial stage. The particular feature of these new antiretrovirals is that they do not target the virus directly, as the majority of existing antiretrovirals do, but the interactions between the virus and its host, which are essential for the replication of the virus. The project, which will get under way in October 2012 when a launch meeting is to be held at the Biocitech science and technology park, is due to last three years and to receive total funding of $7.8 million.
Mutabilis, both coordinator of the project and a partner in it, formed a consortium in July 2011 comprising five European academic research establishments—University College London (UCL) and the Cancer Research Institute U.K. (CRUK) in the United Kingdom; the Academic Medical Center of the University of Amsterdam (AMC) in the Netherlands; the AIDS Units Clinical Institute of the University of Barcelona (FCRB) in Spain; the Institut Cochin and the University Hematology Institute (IUH) of the Saint Louis Hospital in Paris.
Of the 1,135 projects submitted under the FP7 2012 health research program, which spawned the request for proposals to which Mutabilis responded, 319 were short-listed in the first instance (on the basis of program summaries), after which 121 were finally selected, representing a success rate of around 10%.
The E.U.’s seventh framework program (FP7), which has been allotted a total budget of $65.6 billion for the 2007-2013 period, brings together all the E.U.'s research initiatives under one roof and plays an important role in achieving its growth, competitiveness and employment targets. A budget of $7.8 billion has been assigned to cooperation in human health. HIVINNOV was selected from among research programs aimed at discovering innovative drugs and developing vaccines against the infectious and parasitic diseases responsible for the world's worst human health problems, namely malaria, tuberculosis and HIV infection.
"The commission was apparently very impressed with the major advances we have made with the compounds we are developing, as well as the quality of the consortium and the research projects proposed," said Richard Benarous, scientific director of Mutabilis. “This success should encourage all the companies on the Biocitech [technology park] campus to pay more attention and respond to European tenders that often give precedence to collaborations between innovative SMEs and European academic partners."