1 plateforme de bioproduction de médicaments de thérapies innovantes
The IECM unit in figures:
7 researchers and teacher-researchers
7 technicians and administrative staff
4 PhD students
1 A1 and A2 rodent animal facility
1 Immunomonitoring platform
Discover IECM on video :
IECM is a research unit (USC 1383) in cellular and molecular immuno-endocrinology that operates under the aegis of Oniris and INRAE (France’s national institute for research in agriculture, food and the environment). It is part of INRAE’s animal health department. IECM’s research focuses on the effects of pancreatic microenvironment stress on autoimmunity leading to type 1 diabetes and on the impact of stress on anti-infection immunity in pigs. This research involves identification of original biomarkers (microRNAs, extracellular vesicles) and the development of innovative therapeutic approaches (extracellular vesicles, cellular xenotherapy and bioartificial pancreas).
IECM develops expertise in immunology, biotechnology, functional tests and integrative biology (particularly the pig model). It is part of a ‘one health, one medicine’ translational approach. By incorporating researchers, pharmacists, veterinary surgeons and clinicians in human health, the unit helps transfer new preclinical concepts to clinical research in animal and human health.
The research carried out in the unit is based on two themes:
Pancreatic beta function, development and maturation in regard to weaning.
Development of innovative biotherapies that use extracellular vesicles derived from pancreatic beta cells
IECM’s researchers and lecturing researchers organise and provide initial teaching in physiology, pathophysiology and biotechnology for Oniris’s veterinary surgeons and engineers. They are also involved in organising certain master’s courses at the University of Nantes: ‘Biology, biotechnology and therapeutic research’ (teaching unit responsibility, board of examiners, co-accredited by Oniris), ‘Biotherapies and innovative therapy medicines’ (teaching unit responsibility) and ‘Bioproduction and health’ (course responsibility, open since September 2022). They are likewise involved in the new graduate programmes of the University of Nantes, in particular the MICAS graduate programme (on microbiota, intestines, the brain, food and health), and in the different commissions of the university’s biology and health doctoral school.
IECM helped create Oniris’s preclinical investigation and research centre (CRIP) and it works with two facilities:
The A1 and A2 Rodents animal house: This animal house covers a floor area of 350m² and has a 1,000-rodent capacity. It includes several animal housing areas that can contain SPF, A1 and A2 animals. It also has two experiment rooms that are fitted for surgery on rodents.
The immuno-monitoring platform: different tools (flow cytometry, ELISpot) are used to analyse immune responses in humans and animals as part of partnerships or services for academic laboratories and private firms. The platform also has a qNano device (IZON), a measurement system based on tunable resistive pulse sensing (TRPS) technology, which uses nanopores of different sizes to measure the size of nanoparticles and quantify them. This tool is suitable for characterising subpopulations of extracellular vesicles.
The unit is also responsible for the platform ‘Bioproduction for Health and Innovative Therapy’ (B-FIT), which is backed by France’s Pays de la Loire region as part of a regional support scheme for research infrastructures. This platform is located on Oniris’s food science campus. It offers a continuation of upstream and downstream stages in the same structure with tools for characterising biotherapies and, more particularly, extracellular vesicles. It offers equipment on a laboratory scale and on a pilot scale that can be used to optimise and assess the impact of the change of scale of bioproduction processes on the attributes and qualities of biotherapies.
The IECM unit develops research projects in the field of human type 1 diabetes and animal health, including the generation of knowledge on relevant pathophysiological mechanisms, the identification of cellular and molecular biomarkers and the development of innovative immuno-intervention approaches.