Torskal, the company that transforms plants to treat skin cancer

Torskal, the company that transforms plants to treat skin cancer
Torskal, the company that transforms plants to treat skin cancer

This Saturday, May 25, 2024 marks the last day of the VivaTech show in Paris, where ten companies were able to present their work. Among them, the company Torskal, a pioneer in green nanotechnologies and which is working on a new treatment for skin cancers using plants transformed into gold nanoparticles. A unique and patented process, which will soon enter clinical trials if all goes well. (Photo Photo as/

“Troskal specializes in green nanotechnology against cancer, that is to say we develop gold nanoparticles from plants endemic to Reunion Island to destroy tumors using heat” explains Anne-Laure Morel, co -founder and president of the company.

A nanoparticle is a small object measuring a billionth of a meter. “It’s smaller than a cell. The innovation is using medicinal plants to replace all chemicals, and I revisited the manufacturing process” explains the biochemist.

A technology which was developed when the company was created in 2015. “The invention lies in the fact that instead of using the pharmacological properties of a drug, such as chemotherapy for example, we will inject the nanoparticle in the tumor and activate it with a laser” explains the biochemist. “There will be a conversion of energy into heat, which will thermally destroy the tumor.”

Concerned about creating an environmentally friendly process, she turned to the island’s rich biodiversity.

“I wanted it to be a plant listed in the French pharmacopoeia, I didn’t want to use root or bark, and not be subject to the seasons. So I became interested in the island’s endemic plants” explains Anne- Laura Morel.

The plants chosen “are rich in polyphenol (a family of organic molecules; editor’s note), the chemical composition is important to obtain the nanoparticles”.

“I revisited the classic protocol for manufacturing nanoparticles, to obtain very small particles which can be used in the treatment of certain skin cancers,” she explains. “It is a patented technology, the patent of which protects the technique and the final characteristics of the products and their application.” Listen :

– An idea born from her experience as a doctoral student –

The idea was born during Anne-Laure Morel’s doctorate at the University of Jussieu (Paris), where she worked with biosensors and gold nanoparticles, used to detect certain molecules.

“I noticed that we were massively using toxic products for treatments, and I wanted to create a simple and environmentally friendly process,” she remembers.

“Then, like many people unfortunately, I was affected by cancer in those around me, and I realized that nanoparticles are perfect for entering the heart of the cell and interacting in a very specific way. My experience as as a chemist associated with plants, there was a convergence of ideas to develop this process” she explains.

– Fundraising –

The company is now working on fundraising to continue their research, and on creating a file for the National Agency for the Safety of Medicines and Health Products (ANSM) to be able to launch clinical trials.

“We have finalized the research and development part of the program which concerns skin cancers. We have carried out the technology transfer, and therefore identified technological partners for the manufacture of nanoparticles. We have also identified hospital partners for clinical research” announces Anne-Laure Morel.

“We are now in the almost complete regulatory phase to submit a file and ask the ANSM for authorization to launch clinical investigations. For this we need to raise funds,” she explains.

Hence its presence this week at the VivaTech show.

In the long term, the process could be used for other types of cancer.

“This program is dedicated to surface cancers, we are not talking about deep cancers. But of course, when I have proven the concept in humans, it can be extrapolated to other indications, such as melanomas, prostate and bladder cancers…There are also other patents which give hybrid nanoparticles and which could be associated with radiotherapy” estimates Anne-Laure Morel. And why not apply it to other types of skin lesions.

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