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CLINIFUTUR supports research with TORSKAL

The Groupe de Santé CLINIFUTUR has just taken a stake in the start-up SAS Torskal, which it previously supported in its research on the evaluation of gold nanoparticles (NPs) as radiotherapy potentiators (radioenhancer) and as mediators of hyperthermia by plasmonic phototherapy. These gold nanoparticles are obtained by using the bio-reducing potential of plant extracts from Reunion Island biodiversity.

Clinifutur partner of Torskal

The backing of Torskal by the Groupe de Santé CLINIFUTUR is part of a long-term partnership, with the upcoming implementation of phase 1 clinical trials relating to the validation of the Nanotheranostics project:

  • treatment of skin cancers by plasmonic phototherapy induced by irradiation in the near infrared (IR); trials which will take place in parallel with the teams of the Clinique Sainte-Clotilde, and, in mainland France, in a public hospital establishment. It highlights the successful combination of proven technologies and innovative treatments from green nanotechnology.

The purpose of this work lies in the development of therapies using non-toxic anti-cancer drugs, and designed according to an ecological process, more respectful of the environment.
In the case of surface cancers, the action is not pharmacological but physical. This new therapy is the combination of gold nanoparticles and non-ionizing radiation – emitting in the near infrared – to provide an alternative to surgical resection. The nanoparticles are injected intratumorally or intravenously, depending on the type of cancer.

If the tumor is localized on the surface of the skin, in the case of cutaneous melanomas for example, the NP carrier solution can be injected intratumorally; in the case of deep forms, such as pancreatic cancer, the intravenous route is required. Targeting cancer cells is passive… and active. In the first case, it takes advantage of the EPR "Enhanced Permeability and Retention" effect, which creates porosity in the blood vessels irrigating solid tumors, allowing the passage and so-called accumulation of nanoparticles in this area, when usually their diameter - between 5 and 10 nm - forbids them.

Induced effect of this accumulation, it does not concern healthy cells which will not be affected by plasmonic phototherapy or radiotherapy, for lack of being so “designated” or vectorized.
The second targeting modality is called active, which reinforces the first thanks to the use of targeting ligands resulting from the synthesis of nanoparticles with plant extracts, but also by addition. The NPs are absorbed, settle in the tumor cells which are hungry for these molecules, growth obliges...

As regards cutaneous melanomas, the tumors are treated by plasmon phototherapy induced by laser in the near infrared; the nanoparticles present on their surface electrons whose oscillation, the plasmon wave (Localized Surface Plasmon Resonance), can be excited by a light wave in the visible range. Thus part of the light energy absorbed during the resonance of the plasmon oscillation is converted into heat, hyperthermia, which causes the destruction (apoptosis) of the cells in which the temperature of the material is raised to the nanometric scale. This phenomenon being strictly localized to the nanoparticle body, it is limited to the vectorized cells, subjected to the excitation beam, sparing the healthy cells.

There are other dynamic phototherapy techniques that operate in a different spectrum and use the action of a photosensitizer that causes a transfer of energy to oxygen promoting the formation of reactive oxygen species (ROS ), resulting in cell death. Anne-Laure Morel considers that this treatment, although effective, is extremely painful, the phenomenon produced showing inertia after the light excitation stops, with the particularity that its effect would exceed the targeted area. Hence the interest of ongoing research.

Nanotheranostics: phase 1 clinical trials:

Work on the treatment of skin cancers by plasmonic phototherapy induced by irradiation in the near infrared, after preclinical studies, has reached the phase of phase 1 clinical trials. Clinique Sainte-Clotilde, in association with Dr Mickaël BEGUE, Radiotherapist Oncologist and Youssef SLAMA, Radiophysicist, Head of the Radiophysics Unit, in collaboration with Dr Antoine BERTOLOTTI, Dermatologist at the Center Hospitalier Universitaire de Saint-Pierre. In mainland France, clinical trials will be carried out in collaboration with a public hospital establishment, under the aegis of an onco-dermatologist.

In Reunion, the recruitment of cohorts is greatly facilitated by the presence in the population of light-skinned phototypes confronted all year round with aggressive solar radiation, high UV indices, above 10, almost half of the year, and even more at altitude. On average, 100 new cases of cutaneous melanoma (CD) are recorded each year. *From 1990 to 2015, an increase of +688% in the standardized incidence rate was recorded in men and +283% in women... of incidence of cutaneous melanoma in 2015 were 30/100,000, the equivalent of Australian rates... when in mainland France, the rate remained below 13.5/100,000. (*Source Aurélie Monié. Evaluation of a solar risk prevention program in schools in Reunion in 2016-2017. Human Medicine and Pathology. 2018).


Torskal currently has a staff of 9 people spread over three sites, starting with the laboratory located at CYROI, in Reunion where there are two researchers in phytochemistry and preclinical biology as well as the President and the CEO, both in charge of development in Asia; in Paris two researchers in Physical Chemistry of Materials and in Biology, two employees specialized in digital marketing and business development. Discussions are open for the opening of a laboratory at the Sorbonne University. In the USA, steps are underway for a short-term installation with the help of the CEO in charge of North American development. Regarding the forthcoming phase II clinical trials, Torskal is in contact with a pharmaceutical establishment which is interested in its use of plants endemic to Reunion in the therapeutic process for the treatment of skin cancers. The laboratory is considering the possibility of producing clinical batches that presuppose licensing by 2023.
In addition, Torskal is developing a range of dermo-cosmetic products from Reunion island, ambaville, which is available in pharmacies, but also on the website of Torskal's subsidiary brand These products are halfway between cosmetics and medicine and will therefore be sold in pharmacies. It is a dermo-protector, repairer and antioxidant. Another range should follow to treat the side effects of radiotherapy, with the use of another type of gold nano-particle than that used by Nanotheranostics. This range is awaiting validation by the Scientific Secretariat of the European Union…

In conclusion :

Anne-Laure MOREL, Founding President of TORSKAL, and Dr Michel DELEFLIE, Founding CEO of the Groupe de Santé CLINIFUTUR, welcome this merger. Torskal emphasizes the quality of the support provided by Clinifutur, a pioneering group in the oncology and radiotherapy sector in Reunion.


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