The health ecosystem in Provence: core targets for Kephalios

success story
The health ecosystem in Provence: core targets for Kephalios
16 June 2016 / Générale, Technologies Médicales, Biotechnologie
Its operational headquarters moved from Paris to Provence

Kephalios, which specializes in treating heart problems caused by malfunctions of the mitral valve, moved its operational headquarters from Paris to Provence in January 2016. Collaborations with the research centers at Aix-Marseille University and the proximity of the Eurobiomed cluster and esteemed health professionals combine to create an ideal ecosystem for this young start-up that develops innovative medical devices destined to bring significant surgical advances to patients.

Since 2011, Kephalios has been developing disruptive technology to treat mitral regurgitation, which is the most common form of valvular heart disease. This promising innovation can considerably improve patient quality of life and lower treatment costs. Thanks to a transcatheter intervention, the adjustable valve spares the patient a second open-heart surgery and all the risks such an operation entails.

Last spring, with financial support from the investment fund Truffle Capital, the start-up left Paris for Aix-en-Provence after having also considered Besançon and Grenoble. The move was motivated not by the beautiful landscapes and quality of life, but by a robust ecosystem conducive to furthering the work of the company's team of doctors and scientists.

Kephalios connected with Provence Promotion at an event organized by Eurobiomed, the health cluster in southern France. "They really jump-started our relocation by helping us find offices. Eurobiomed played a decisive role in securing public financing," explains Daniele Zanotti, Director of Medical Device Development at Kephalios. 

BPI France support to build a cardiac sector

Kephalios, which leads the MIVANA consortium, is working with two companies -- Epygon and MDB Texinov -- and the IFTH (*) research center to establish a cardiovascular industry in France. MIVANA has received €20 million in private funding and a total of €8.6 million from BPI France.

"This region offers top-notch resources and talented human resources from Aix-Marseille University. To demonstrate our technology, we are relying on research laboratories, including Professor Rieu's lab at Luminy," notes Daniele Zanotti. Indeed, two of the researcher's interns have joined the four employees of Kephalios in Aix-en-Provence. A stone's throw from the TGV train station and not far from Marseille Provence International Airport, Duranne is especially easy to access. This is a tremendous asset for a company that is simultaneously seeking to expand its network of medical expertise throughout the world. 

Human testing planned for late 2016

Kephalios is finalizing the design of its first prototype for an adjustable mitral valve with in vivo animal testing that began in 2015. A new series of tests is slated to begin on 10 ewes from July 2016 through the end of the year.
Kephalios intends to launch its first clinical tests on humans in late 2016. "We are planning to submit a protocol to the ANSM (*) and choose patients who can benefit from our technology," reports Daniele Zanotti. Kephalios hopes to start generating income in 2018. 

(*) IFTH: French Textile and Clothing Institute.
(**) ANSM: French National Agency for Drug and Health Product Safety.