Phase II, 2007-2009: Growth and success of pilot demonstration
During 2006, positive assessments of Inserm and AFM led to the creation of two administrative entities that are still running, Inserm Unit 861 (joint with the University of Evry, UEVE) and the Centre for the Study of Stem Cells (CECS). Both structures were positively reassessed at the end of Phase II, a timetable consistent with the development of the third strategic plan of the Institute.
Phase II was marked by strong growth in both biological resources in equipment, number of teams and programs.
- In addition to imported embryonic stem cell lines, a campaign was carried out in collaboration with the team of Professor Stéphane Viville in Strasbourg, which has enabled us to bank 19 lines from embryos discarded during a preimplantation diagnosis because of the presence of a genetic defect responsible for a severe disease.
- In parallel, since 2008, I-Stem teams have taken the opportunity of gene reprogramming techniques developed by Shinya Yamana (published November 2007) to create many iPS cell lines carrying genetic defects.
- Many colleagues have turned to us to have access to iPS cell lines exhibiting mutations they studied. In response, we have created the “iPS workshop “, which ensures at the same time the production of the cell lines and the formation of a member of the external team for a period of three months full-time at I-Stem. To date, more than twenty laboratories have benefited from this workshop.
- The start of Phase II coincided with the relocation of I-Stem in 1600 square meters, gradually extended to 2300, located within theGenopole campus I. Research space consists mainly pf confined Level II areas required for work on human cells and unconfined laboratories for biochemical experiments, molecular biology, histology and analyses.
- The platform for high-throughput screening of compounds was installed in 2007 and implemented from mid-2008. Screening campaigns have been increasing in number every year. Itshowed itsfull power at the end of the second phase of I-Stem through allowing screening – within an industrial collaboration with Hoffman LaRoche – of 220,000 compounds.
- The measurement tools for high content screening were installed, especially an automated imager and quantitative PCR on 384-well plates.
- An area dedicated to animal studies, preclinical research in rodents has been implemented.
While Phase I was conducted by a small “commando”-like team without formal internal structure, phase II, marked by a doubling of the number of I-Stem members in 2007 and another doubling in 2008, led to the organization of research teams, each responsible for developing a program and under the responsibility of a team leader.
- The majority of research teams are organized around a disease or group of diseases affecting a single organ or a single cell type. Description of the objectives and activities of the R & D is offered to the reader in a specific folder.
- Three technological research teams are organized around major methodologies and technologies Institute (production of cells in bulk, high and medium speed screening, functional genomics)
- In parallel, both management teams have been structured: a scientific office, responsible for the coordination and facilitation of scientific and technical activities, as well as partnerships and the administrative, financial and logistics office, dedicated to all support functions.
Team building, access to biological resources and implementation platforms have diversified approaches and programs.
- Phase II has seen, since 2007, the first patents and the first international publications on technological programs (cell production, identification of genomic abnormalities) and biological research (identification of several differentiation protocols)
- The arrival of several teams has diversified pathological indications in the context of two major research established at the outset, cell therapy and disease modeling paving the way for drug screening.
- Several research collaborations have been established with academic partners and industrial pharmas and biotechs.