In less than a decade, neurobiologists Valérie Crépel from Inserm and Christophe Mulle from CNRS have brought a gene therapy for temporal lobe epilepsy to the stage at which it can soon be tested in patients. This success in creating industrial value has earned Valérie Crépel the Innovation Prize.
Temporal lobe epilepsy is the most common form of epilepsy in adults. In 2005, Valérie Crépel, Inserm research director at the Mediterranean Institute of Neurobiology (Inmed) in Marseille, discovered that kainate receptors (KARs) of the neurotransmitter glutamate were involved. Seven years later, Crépel and Christophe Mulle, from the Interdisciplinary Institute of Neuroscience (IINS) in Bordeaux, demonstrated KARs to be a key element in the origin of this epilepsy in the hippocampus and furthermore a potential therapeutic target in a condition where 30% of patients are refractory to the available treatments. « I wanted us to protect this innovative data, » explains Crépel. So I contacted Inserm Transfert. » Thanks to this private subsidiary of Inserm that assists its scientists in creating value from their work, the two researchers filed a patent in September 2013.