November 2022

MaaT Pharma, the pioneer in the development of microbial ecosystem therapeutics for cancer, develops and produces its innovative therapies in the Lyon region.

MaaT Pharma has been developing therapies based on the intestinal microbiome since 2014 to improve the survival chances of cancer patients. Still at the experimental stage, the company fuels and inspires the whole microbiome sector in the Lyon region, which is already at the cutting edge of development.

MaaT Pharma: a pioneer in microbiome therapies at the industrial production stage

In 2013, Hervé Affagard, a biomedical engineer and enthusiast of innovation, discovered what he calls the wonderful world of the microbiome. Following a difficult personal experience, he threw himself into developing a solution to treat people suffering with cancer based on the operation of the intestinal microbiome.

I wanted to create medical solutions for people who found themselves out of therapeutic options.

Hervé Affagard, Chief Executive Officier (CEO) and co-founder of MaaT Pharma

He chose to develop his project in Lyon, working with the Accinov platform (now ABL Europe) at 317 avenue Jean Jaurès in the seventh arrondissement. He collaborated with the platform to create a unique production model.

He chose Lyon as the base for his company MaaT Pharma because the Accinov platform was the only one in Europe able to host his project. He also chose the city for its entrepreneurial dynamism, its thriving biomedicine sector and its quality of life.

An innovative treatment entirely developed in Lyon

MaaT Pharma designed and developed its therapeutic solution itself, based on knowledge transfer from INRAE (the National Research Institute for Agriculture, Food and the Environment). It is able to biomanufacture the solution in the Lyon region and maintains control over the whole value chain, from design to marketing. It also runs clinical trials for the most advanced microbiome-based biotherapy in oncology in the world.

The principle is to restore the intestinal microbiome of cancer patients that has been damaged by treatments such as antibiotic therapy and chemotherapy. The imbalances created by these therapies drastically reduce the capacity of the immune system and can cause reactions such as graft-versus-host disease, in which the body rejects the bone marrow transplants used to treat certain cancers. In fact, graft-versus-host disease was the initial focus of the group's work – it occurs in 30 to 50% of transplant cases and is fatal for 70 to 80% of patients. The first results have been promising: patients whose chance of survival after two months was estimated at 22% have seen this rise to 44% after a year thanks to the treatment.

The microbial system consists of billions of bacteria, and all of them are essential for the immune system to function. They can be thought of as colours. When colours are missing, the immune system cannot play its role to the full. Our work involves restoring all the colours of the microbiome, explains Hervé Affagard, CEO and co-founder of MaaT Pharma

The therapy is still undergoing clinical trials. Long-term results will not be available until 2024, with the product coming to market in 2025. For the moment, the company is developing and testing drug candidates at an international level.

MaaT Pharma, spearheading the microbiome sector in Lyon and Europe

With 100 talents having already passed through the company and an investment of €90 million in research, development and training, MaaT Pharma is a breeding ground for jobs, skills and knowledge for the local scientific ecosystem.

It works with many research centres with international reputations in the sector based in the Lyon region, such as the Bioaster technology research institute, the Lyonbiopôle competitive cluster and Cynbiome, the leading French and European network of excellence in the microbiome and infectious diseases.

In January 2022, the company's founder also took on the presidency of Alliance Promotion Microbiote, an association that brings together key private and public-sector players in the industry. In this role, he publicises the priorities and innovations developed by the whole microbiome sector to the political world, investors and pharmaceutical groups.

A partnership with Skyepharma to build the first site in France dedicated to the production of biotherapies derived from the microbiome

After seven years of partnership with the industrial site Accinov/ABL Europe, MaaT Pharma is anticipating the commercial launch of its most advanced drug candidate and scaling up its production capacity.

The company has chosen to remain in the Lyon region for its industrial-phase biomanufacturing.

It will soon be moving to Skyepharma's SkyeHub Bioproduction located in the Chesnes business park in Saint-Quentin-Fallavier (Porte de l'Isère urban community). Here it will establish the biggest microbial biomanufacturing plant in France. Skyepharma and MaaT Pharma are committed to a strong partnership in which each player draws on its own expertise, based on the same model as the one developed at the Accinov site. Within a 1,600-square-metre building, they aim to consolidate their leading position.

A story guided at every step by Aderly and Lyon Métropole

Lyon Métropole and Aderly, the economic development agency for the Lyon region, have supported and assisted MaaT Pharma through all the stages of its set-up process and throughout its development in the Lyon metropolitan area.

Aderly helped the group to set up at the Accinov platform, accessing offices, laboratories and equipment. Finally, MaaT Pharma benefited from networking opportunities with the key players in the region, together with support in recruiting staff.

In 2021, Aderly continued to support MaaT Pharma in its search for sites for its new establishment in the Lyon region.

There is real enthusiasm for entrepreneurs, which is great. There's no need to wait three months for an appointment with a representative of the region, as is often the case elsewhere.

Hervé Affagard, CEO and co-founder of MaaT Pharma

MaaT Pharma in figures

  • €0.4 million in revenue (third quarter of 2022)
  • 50 employees in 2022, with a target of 65 by 2024
  • €90 million raised and invested in research and development
  • 4 clinical trials in oncology
  • 3 products in development
  • 13 patent families registered
  • Over 200 patients treated in Europe

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