Next up in our exciting Congress Conversations series is an interview with Genoskin’s Dr Nicolas Gaudenzio. He joined us at the Congress for a technology showcase, presenting on optimising vaccine candidate selection with an “insight into VaxSkin’s human skin-based multimodal immune profiling system”. We are glad that he was able to make some time to share some information on the work his team is doing to revolutionise vaccine discovery and development, and we hope that you enjoy the interview!
Introducing Dr Gaudenzio
Dr Gaudenzio explains that he is the Chief Scientific Officer at Genoskin and Principal Investigator at Inserm. Genoskin is a French-American biotech company based in Toulouse and Salem.
“We have built a network of surgeons in hospital in Europe and in the US and we actually obtain donated human skin samples that we preserve alive, in a culture dish, and that we use actually to test the safety and efficacy of different drugs that would be administered through the subcutaneous route.”
What happens at the site of injection?
We asked Dr Gaudenzio to give us an insight into what actually happens at the site of injection and how this informs the work that Genoskin is doing. He explains that how we currently “assess” and “study” the effects of vaccination in people is through a blood draw, days or weeks after an injection, to examine the presence of antibodies or antigen-specific immune cells.
“But what’s going on actually at the site of injection, when we inject the vaccine, it’s still a black box.”
Genoskin, therefore, tests vaccines in donated skin samples. The team injects vaccine candidates into “samples from multiple donors” to “reproduce the heterogeneity of the population”. This allows them to understand two things: “what’s going on at the tissue level and then what’s going on at the single cell level”. At tissue level, they can understand the risks of the vaccine and how it will “modify the skin ecosystem”. At single cell level they can understand the type of immune cells that uptake the vaccine, how it’s received, and how this uptake will activate specific cells.
“And so we mix different technologies; we mix some transcriptomic analyses, proteomic analyses, and we integrate all those data with some AI and machine learning systems to better understand and get really actionable insights.”
For more on the technology and its applications you can visit Genoskin’s website here.
Why does this matter?
If this technology is new to you, questions about the benefit might arise. We asked how this approach is different, and better, than other, more ‘traditional’ approaches. Dr Gaudenzio suggests that the data are “100% human”. Therefore, they do not “extrapolate data from animal studies”. This has several benefits, not only for the animals; the team gets the “true reaction” that would happen in the human organ.
“This is a very valuable information because there is always a gap between when we finish the animal studies and then we go into the clinic, what’s going to happen in the patients?”
The “opportunity” that is offered by Genoskin’s technology is a “fully immunocompetent organ” that provides “a lot of information” so we can predict what will happen in the patient.
How receptive is the community?
When we consider these innovative technologies, a question that often springs to mind is about the reception they might get from the established vaccine community. We asked Dr Gaudenzio about entering the space and offering new solutions; how easy or hard is it? He suggests that this community is “experiencing the same problem”: “how do we translate animal studies into prediction for humans”? Different approaches are being explored, but none offer the “solution that is needed”. Indeed, “people are also coming to us directly” to discuss collaboration.
“Something very unique, I think of our approach, is to be able to study our immune system, the human immune system, in its native environment…I think this is something very valuable, and it seems to be appreciated so far by the community!”
Our final question, as always, gives our experts an opportunity to share what they are looking forward to at the event.
“I’m looking forward to exchange with many people!”
Not only that, Dr Gaudenzio, like other speakers, was looking forward to enjoying our beautiful Spanish setting.
We hope that the Congress was fruitful for Dr Gaudenzio, and that you enjoy learning more about his work! Thank you to Dr Gaudenzio for his time and insight. For more like this, don’t forget to subscribe here.