Trends Talk with Jehan Liénart (Vésale Bioscience): "With a bacterial Covid, tens of millions of deaths" - Companies

Trends Talk with Jehan Liénart (Vésale Bioscience): “With a bacterial Covid, tens of millions of deaths” – Companies

The next pandemic could be that of a killer bacteria resistant to all antibiotics, warns the WHO. To remedy this, Vésale Bioscience relies on the phage, a good virus. Its research, in collaboration with Defense, is hailed at European level.

Vésale Bioscience received the award for the most innovative life sciences start-up of the year at European level, at the end of 2021. Its founder, Jehan Liénart, expressed his satisfaction in the program Trends Talk, broadcast this weekend on Canal Z in partnership with Trends Tendances. “It’s a magnificent prize, exceptional because it is European, he underlines. There were 94 projects selected and we beat the French, the Germans… I am proud to be Belgian.” The “product” designed by this small company from Néville-sur-Mohaigne is, potentially, a biotech and economic revolution.

This start-up, which is actually a spin-out of Vésale Pharma, is part of a biotechnology that could represent a huge market in the near future, estimated by Jehan Liénart at around ten billion. Starting from a virus that we carry by the billions in our organisms: the phage. “The bacteriophage is a good virus, it is the most present living being on earth”, underlines the CEO of Vésale Bioscience. A small mosquito compared to a bacterium that would be an elephant, the phage has the ability to neutralize its harmful activity and decimate it. An action that promises to be of major importance.

“The leading cause of death in 2050”

This small positive virus would indeed have the virtue of providing an answer to one of the next pandemics: antibiotic resistance. “Antibiotics are losing their effectiveness because we have consumed too much of them and because, in the 1970s and 80s, we sold tons of them in veterinary medicine, underlines Jehan Liénart. Some bacteria have become resistant to all antibiotics and that, it’s very serious: it’s not me who says it, but the very serious World Health Organization (WHO), in its latest reports. Around 2050, it could be the leading cause of death before cancer or cardiovascular disease. If the Covid had been a bacterium, we would have had tens of millions of deaths.

The extra cost to the economy could be colossal: “We’re talking hundreds of trillions more dollars for our health savings!”

This alternative to antibiotics and therefore a very natural product. Recognized now. Since 2011, Europe considers phages as drugs, underlines the founder of Vésale Bioscience. “Which posed a huge problem for the pharmaceutical industry because it could not be classified in the same way,” he adds. But the credibility of the phage is no longer in question, according to its designer.

The research carried out by this start-up was carried out in Belgium with the National Defence. “The army is not just tanks, smiles Jehan Liénart. It has an impressive research department and in terms of phage therapy, it is at the forefront of the world.” The story is also worthy of a political fiction novel. “In the 1990s, we feared a major bacteriological war, in particular with Anthrax, says the CEO of Vésale Bioscience. NATO decided that Belgium should work on a response and provided the army significant means. Fortunately, there was no bacteriological warfare, but everything is there now.” And could be used to lead another fight, in a dry form likely to be widely distributed, developed by the Belgian company.

The irony of history is that the first to have worked on phages were none other than the Soviets, in a Cold War context.

Watch the full interview on Trends Talk

Vésale Bioscience received the prize for the most innovative life sciences start-up of the year at European level, at the end of 2021. Its founder, Jehan Liénart, expressed his satisfaction in the program Trends Talk, broadcast this weekend on Canal Z in partnership with Trends Tendances. “It’s a magnificent prize, exceptional because it is European, he underlines. There were 94 projects selected and we beat the French, the Germans… I am proud to be Belgian.” The “product” designed by this small company from Néville-sur-Mohaigne is potentially a biotech and economic revolution. This start-up, which is actually a spin-out from Vésale Pharma, is part of a biotechnology that could represent a huge market in the near future, estimated by Jehan Liénart at around ten billion. Starting from a virus that we carry by the billions in our organisms: the phage. “The bacteriophage is a good virus, it is the most present living being on earth”, underlines the CEO of Vésale Bioscience. A small mosquito compared to a bacterium that would be an elephant, the phage has the ability to neutralize its harmful activity and decimate it. An action that promises to be of major importance. This small positive virus would indeed have the virtue of providing an answer to one of the next pandemics: resistance to antibiotics. “Antibiotics are losing their effectiveness because we have consumed too much of them and because, in the 1970s and 80s, we sold tons of them in veterinary medicine, underlines Jehan Liénart. Some bacteria have become resistant to all antibiotics and that, it’s very serious: it’s not me who says it, but the very serious World Health Organization (WHO), in its latest reports. Around 2050, it could be the first cause of death before cancers or cardiovascular diseases. If the Covid had been a bacterium, we would have had tens of millions of deaths.”The additional cost for the economy could be colossal: “We are talking about hundreds of trillions of additional dollars for our health savings !”This alternative to antibiotics and therefore a very natural product. Recognized now. Since 2011, Europe considers phages as drugs, underlines the founder of Vésale Bioscience. “Which posed a huge problem for the pharmaceutical industry because it could not be classified in the same way,” he adds. But the credibility of the phage no longer poses any question, according to its designer. The research carried out by this start-up was carried out in Belgium, with the National Defense. “The army is not just tanks, smiles Jehan Liénart. It has an impressive research department and in terms of phage therapy, it is at the forefront of the world.” The story is also worthy of a political fiction novel. “In the 1990s, we feared a major bacteriological war, in particular with Anthrax, says the CEO of Vésale Bioscience. NATO decided that Belgium should work on a response and provided the army significant means. Fortunately, there was no bacteriological warfare, but everything is there now.” And could be used to lead another fight, in a dry form likely to be widely distributed, developed by the Belgian company. The irony of history is that the first to have worked on phages were none other than the Soviets, in a context of the Cold War. Find the complete interview on the program Trends Talk

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