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Start-Up Spotlight: ManRos Therapeutics

Posted on March 2nd, 2017 by in Pharma R&D


This week we turn our attention to the busy start-up ManRos Therapeutics, based in France. Laurent Meijer, CEO & CSO of ManRos, details the company’s efforts to address several unmet medical needs.

What does the company do?

The objectives of ManRos Therapeutics (“From Sea to Pharmacy”) are the identification, characterization, optimization (medicinal chemistry), intellectual property protection, and preclinical & clinical development of pharmacological kinase inhibitors (some derived from marine natural products) for their use in the treatment of cystic fibrosis, polycystic kidney disease, Down syndrome, and Alzheimer’s disease.

What is the background of ManRos Therapeutics, and why is the company’s research so important?

ManRos is a biotechnology start-up company founded in 2007 by Laurent Meijer (EC Director of Research, CNRS) and Herve Galons (EC Professor, Universite Paris-Descartes). Detached from the CNRS, Laurent Meijer has been the CEO and CSO of ManRos since July 2011. The company currently employs 11 chemists and biologists, and is located in Roscoff (Brittany, France).

ManRos’ projects started from pharmacological inhibitors of protein kinases developed by the CNRS unit previously headed by Laurent Meijer. Protein kinases, which catalyze phosphorylation reactions on three amino acids, control most cellular regulatory pathways. The fact that three independent Nobel Prizes in Medicine and Physiology (1992, 2000, 2001) were awarded in this research area illustrates the importance of kinases and phosphorylation in life regulatory mechanisms.

Tell us more about how ManRos is targeting disease.

For cystic fibrosis (CF), ManRos develops roscovitine for its stimulatory effects of bactericidal activity in alveolar macrophages (which is reduced in macrophages of CF patients, explaining chronic infections, particularly by Pseudomonas aeruginosa). ManRos has started a clinical study to evaluate the safety and efficacy of roscovitine in P. aeruginosa infected CF patients (9 hospitals, 36 patients, placebo controlled, double-blind).

The interest of ManRos in polycystic kidney disease (PKD) started following the discovery, by a Genzyme team, of the arresting effects of roscovitine on the development of kidney and liver cysts in mouse models of PKD. A collaboration was initiated which led to two publications and an option/ license agreement on CR8, a roscovitine derived product. Unfortunately, for various reasons (including the acquisition of Genzyme by Sanofi), this collaboration was stopped. ManRos nevertheless continued this project in three directions: proof of concept in animal models of PKD (and identification of molecular targets), combination of two different treatments, and further optimization of roscovitine derivatives.

ManRos is also working on Alzheimer’s disease and Down syndrome (trisomy 21), which share a common therapeutic target, the DYRK1A kinase, which is involved in the cognitive deficits associated with these two diseases. ManRos is developing two classes of DYRK1A inhibitors, Leucettines and RCZ. The company has obtained proof-of-concept results in mice (in terms of prevention of cognitive deficits) with a Leucettine on two models of DS and two AD models. Optimization (medicinal chemistry, pharmacological properties) towards a drug candidate and further validation in animal models (including the identification of appropriate biomarkers) are the objectives of this AD/DS project. Finally, a chemically-induced model of AD is under development.

What will the next steps of the company be?

There will be a focus on raising funds for the mid-2017 to mid-2020 period. Also, preparing a second clinical trial for cystic fibrosis, entering in clinical phase for polycystic kidney disease, and preclinical for Alzheimer’s disease.

Are you currently looking for partners or investment?

Yes, ManRos is interested in both investment and pharmaceutical partners.

To get in contact with Laurent Meijer, or to follow ManRos Therapeutics:






All opinions shared in this post are the author’s own.

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