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Awarding innovative biomedical research in France

March 3, 2022

By Agne Karose

2022 Elsevier Institut Chochin Awardees

Elsevier-Institut Cochin Innovation Award winners Olivier Kosmider and Jérôme Avouac talk about their groundbreaking autoimmune research

In above image the award winners surrounded by colleagues (left to right): William Rubens, Regional Director, Elsevier; Iman Hajar, Award organizer, Institut Cochin; Prof Olivier Kosmider, winner of the Elsevier–Institut Cochin Innovation Award 2020; Prof Philippe Ruszniewski, Dean of the Faculty of Medicine-Université de Paris; Catherine Chaussain, Vice Dean for Research, Faculty of Health, Université de Paris; Prof. Jerome Avouac, winner of the Elsevier–Institut Cochin Innovation Award 2021; Pierre-Olivier Couraud, Award organizer, Former Director, Institut Cochin; Florence Niedergang, Director, Institut Cochin; Edouard Kaminski, Vice President for Research, Université de Paris.

Two French researchers have been recognized for projects that could open new therapeutic avenues for the treatment of autoimmune diseases.

Institut Cochinopens in new tab/windowUniversité de Parisopens in new tab/window, the Fondation Université de Parisopens in new tab/window and Elsevier awarded the Elsevier–Institut Cochin Innovation Award for 2020 and 2021 to Profs Olivier Kosmideropens in new tab/window and Prof Jérôme Avouacopens in new tab/window of Cochin Hospital and Institut Cochin in a ceremony on February 15.

Due to pandemic delays, Prof Kosmider received the Innovation Award 2020 retroactively for his participation in the development of a new diagnostic tool for the prediction of iron overload. In addition, the Innovation Award 2021 was given to Prof Avouac for developing an innovative approach to the treatment of the rare autoimmune disease systematic scleroderma(SSc).

Since 2017, Institut Cochin and Elsevier have been collaborating to present Elsevier-Institu Cochin award to recognize innovative research projects with a high potential of application in patient treatment. Institut Cochin and Elsevier are working together towards the common goal of supporting innovation in French biomedical research.

Following the ceremony, both awardees are sharing insights about their research, its impact to the society and their goals for the near future.

Prof Olivier Kosmider, winner of the Elsevier–Institut Cochin Innovation Award 2020, talks about his researchopens in new tab/window on myelodysplastic syndromes (MDS) and its potential impact on society.

Prof Jerome Avouac, winner of the Elsevier–Institut Cochin Innovation Award 2021, talks about his researchopens in new tab/window on therapeutic strategies in Systemic sclerosis (SSc), their potential impact on society and his goals for the near future.

Prof Jérôme Avouac is a rheumatologist at the Cochin Hospital and a clinician scientist and teacher at Université de Paris and Institut Cochin. As a member of the team “Pathogenesis and innovative therapies in chronic fibro-inflammatory diseases,” he aims to promote innovative therapeutic strategies in systemic sclerosis (SSc),a complex autoimmune disease with uncontrolled inflammation and fibrosis in the skin and other organs. His team previously developed new mouse models of dermal, pulmonary and vascular fibrosis allowing a pertinent evaluation of new therapeutic approaches.


Prof Jérôme Avouac, MD, PhD

The awarded project aims at assessing the consequences of CD19 CAR-T cells-mediated B lymphocytes aplasia in mice on the progression of pulmonary fibrosis and hypertension: the Fra-2 transgenic mouse model will be used, in as much as it largely mimics SSc with a similar sequential progression. Injection of CD19 CAR-T cells was previously demonstrated as a highly efficient treatment of B cell hemopathies, evoking a complete and persistent B cell aplasia.

This project may have a very important impact on the progression of SSc. It might constitute the first demonstration of the efficacy of CD19 CAR-T cells in a validated and robust SSc model; the expected proof-of-concept would open new therapeutic avenues for an orphan disease as well as other autoimmune diseases.

Prof Olivier Kosmider is a hematologist at the Cochin Hospital and a member of the team “Normal and pathological hematopoiesis” at Institut Cochin. He is an expert in myelodysplastic syndromes (MDS), a group of heterogeneous diseases affecting hematopoietic stem cells; no robust biomarker is available yet for monitoring responses to treatment. MDS with ring sideroblasts (MDS-RS; ring sideroblasts are erythroid precursors with abnormal perinuclear mitochondrial iron accumulation) is a subgroup of MDS with somatic mutations in the SF3B1 gene in 90% of patients, which is now considered as a molecular marker by the WHO classification of myeloid hemopathies.


Prof Olivier Kosmider, PharmD, PhD

By high-throughput analysis of MDS-RS samples, Prof Kosmider and his team identified a variant erythroferrone transcript (ERFE+12), the quantification of which is a prediction factor of iron overload in the blood. This original observation, as a consequence of mutated SF3B1 in bone marrow erythroid cells, can be used now for the development of a useful assay for monitoring responses to treatment.

Accordingly, the main objective of the awarded project is to propose a specific quantification of the variant ERFE protein (ERFEVPFQ) which will allow an appropriate therapeutic management of patients, in collaboration with Dr Leon Kautzopens in new tab/window of Université Toulouse III. Following ongoing validation, this test will be widely proposed to the medical community for monitoring SF3B1-mutated MDS-RS in prospective clinical trials promoted by the Groupe francophone des Myélodysplasies.