In Strasbourg, SpacePharma puts biomedical research into orbit – Le Journal des Entreprises
Weightlessness is about to revolutionize biochemistry. In Strasbourg, SpacePharma, designer of remote-controlled mini-laboratories, is determined to take part in this great upheaval. The company created in 2012 in Israel and Switzerland and present in the United States since 2016, has indeed chosen the Alsatian capital as a bridgehead for its activities in the European Union.
Democratize research in weightlessness
The company has already carried out 8 space missions, including 6 to the International Space Station. A ninth is in preparation. The labs she designs are the size of a shoebox and weigh no more than 4 kg. Concentrated in technology, they make it possible to carry out biochemical experiments in weightlessness, preludes to breakthrough innovations in the production of drugs, regenerative medicine or even cosmetics. Indeed, in space, the chemistry of the elements is not subject to the same conditions as on earth. Proteins crystallize in 3 dimensions, cells renew themselves more quickly, which allows SpacePharma to carry out much faster preclinical trials or even to propose new molecular constructions. With an additional specificity, that of not depending on the intervention of astronauts, since the laboratories are entirely piloted from the ground – a way for the company to democratize research in micro-gravity.
Strasbourg was chosen for its proximity to the pharmaceutical center of Basel and the influence of its own university, with 4 Nobel Prizes in the field of chemistry. SpacePharma has also benefited from the support of the Strasbourg Eurometropolis and the Biovalley cluster. The Alsatian establishment now focuses on the validation operations for the tests necessary to launch missions for European biotech and medtech customers. About ten highly qualified jobs should be created there over the next 3 years. Several projects are already under discussion, including a mission related to cancer research, in cooperation with Professor Eric Olmas, from the University of Nancy Lorraine. SpacePharma also plans to set up an office on the Sophia Antipolis site, dedicated to projects in the field of regenerative medicine.
A mini space factory at the end of 2024
Next step: developing a space mini-factory for the production of molecules with very high added value. SpacePharma has already booked 100 kg on the first flight of the future European shuttle Space Raider, scheduled for the end of 2024. Four production modules of 25 kg each will be put into orbit, before returning to earth two months later. Ultimately, the start-up wants to have its own mini-station, to no longer depend on the international space station, whose operation will stop in 2030.