On February 15, Institut Cochin, Université de Paris and Elsevier awarded the Elsevier-Institut Cochin Innovation Prize to Olivier Kosmider and Jérôme Avouac
Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, Olivier Kosmider retroactively received the 2020 Innovation Prize for his participation in the development of a new diagnostic tool for the prediction of iron overload. In addition, the 2021 Innovation Prize was awarded to Jérôme Avouac for having developed an innovative approach in the treatment of a rare autoimmune disease, systematic scleroderma (SSc).
Since 2017 Institut Cochin and Elsevier have been collaborating to hand out the Elsevier-Institut Cochin Innovation Award to recognize innovative research projects with a high potential of application in patient treatments. Institut Cochin and Elsevier are working together towards the common goal of supporting innovation in French biomedical research.
Prof. Jérôme Avouac is a rheumatologist at the Cochin Hospital, and clinician scientist and teacher at Université de Paris and Institut Cochin. As a member of the team “Pathogenesis and innovative therapies in chronic fibro-inflammatory diseases”, he particularly aims at promoting innovative therapeutic strategies in Systemic sclerosis (SSc), a complex auto-immune disease with uncontrolled inflammation and fibrosis in the skin and other organs. His team previously developed new mouse models of dermal, pulmonary and vascular fibrosis allowing a pertinent evaluation of new therapeutic approaches.
The awarded project aims at assessing the consequences of CD19 CAR-T cells-mediated B lymphocytes aplasia in mice on the progression of pulmonary fibrosis and hypertension: the Fra-2 transgenic mouse model will be used, in as much as it largely mimics SSc, with a similar sequential progression. Injection of CD19 CAR-T cells was previously demonstrated as a highly efficient treatment of B cell hemopathies, evoking a complete and persistent B cell aplasia.
This project may have a very important impact on the progression of SSc. It might constitute the first demonstration of the efficacy of CD19 CAR-T cells in a validated and robust SSc model; the expected ‘proof-of-concept’ would open new therapeutic avenues for an orphan disease, as well as other auto-immune diseases.
Prof. Olivier Kosmider is a hematologist at the Cochin Hospital, teacher at Université de Paris and member of the team “Normal and pathological hematopoiesis” of Institut Cochin. He is an expert in myelodysplastic syndromes (MDS), a group of heterogeneous diseases affecting hematopoietic stem cells; no robust biomarker is available yet for monitoring responses to treatment. MDS with ring sideroblasts (MDS-RS; ring sideroblasts are erythroid precursors with abnormal perinuclear mitochondrial iron accumulation) is a subgroup of MDS with somatic mutations in the SF3B1 gene in 90% of patients, which is now considered as a molecular marker by the WHO classification of myeloid hemopathies.
By high-throughput analysis of MDS-RS samples, Olivier Kosmider and his team could identify a variant erythroferrone transcript (ERFE+12), the quantification of which is a prediction factor of iron overload in the blood. This original observation, as a consequence of mutated SF3B1 in bone marrow erythroid cells, can be used now for the development of a useful assay for monitoring responses to treatment.
Accordingly, the main objective of the awarded project is to propose a specific quantification of the variant ERFE protein (ERFEVPFQ) which will allow an appropriate therapeutic management of patients, in collaboration with Dr Leon Kautz (Toulouse). Following on-going validation, this test will be widely proposed to the medical community for monitoring SF3B1-mutated MDS-RS, in prospective clinical trials promoted by the "Groupe francophone des Myélodysplasies".