Home News The François Baclesse Comprehensive Cancer Centre and LABÉO share the ambition to make Normandy a national reference in genomics

The François Baclesse Comprehensive Cancer Centre and LABÉO share the ambition to make Normandy a national reference in genomics

17 Sep. 2021

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LABEO and Baclesse staff pose in front of the LABEO building
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After over 10 years of cooperation, the François Baclesse Comprehensive Cancer Centre and LABÉO have ratified their partnership by signing an agreement on 3 September 2021.  The aim of this agreement is to pool premises, human and material resources to serve ’one health’ in Normandy. Explanations.

The cancer genetics laboratory at the François Baclesse Comprehensive Cancer Centre is France’s leading laboratory in the molecular diagnosis of genetic predisposition to breast and ovarian cancer. The LABÉO laboratory is, in turn, one of the most important GIPs (Public Interest Groups) in France in the field of animal health, food health and the environment. Both will be pooling skills, infrastructures and state-of-the-art technologies to serve ‘one health’.

What is the one health concept?

The one health concept is based on the fact that human, animal and environmental health are all closely related. Human health is of no meaning if dissociated from animal health and healthy plants and soil. This concept offers improved understanding of the interdependence between the environment, agriculture, food and health.

The François Baclesse Comprehensive Cancer Centre and LABÉO, over 10 years of steadfast collaboration

Angélina LEGROS, team leader in genetics at Baclesse and Elise ODEN, research fellow at LABEO, in front of a sequencer at the François Baclesse Centre.

This collaboration began in 2010, when LABÉO (at the time the Frank Duncombe Laboratory) participated in investment towards the development of the ‘SÉSAME’ (Sequencing for Health, Agronomy, the Sea and the Environment) Next Generation Sequencing platform, located within the François Baclesse Comprehensive Cancer Centre. The platform is open to research teams from throughout the region. Since, the two establishments have regularly collaborated and the François Baclesse Comprehensive Cancer Centre hosts LABÉO staff within its in-house research teams, for the purposes of development or research.

What is sequencing? It is a technique that enables the genetic code to be decoded in order to explain a disease or to develop a treatment. Before the arrival of Next Generation Sequencing (NGS), access to the genome was only partial and a very slow process. ‘It took us over 3 months to sequence 2 genes, whereas, today, we can decode an entire genome in a few days!’ Dr Dominique Vaur, director of the François Baclesse Comprehensive Cancer Centre’s biology and cancer genetics laboratory, explains.

Today, the two establishments are formalising this shared will towards cooperation, through the signature of an ambitious and sustainable partnership agreement.

Cooperation to serve public health and research

The fields of cooperation between the two teams focus on sequencing techniques and bioinformatics, both in research and development, together with clinical diagnosis in human and animal biology. Bioinformatics is the science that enables raw data generated from sequencers to be transformed into useful and exploitable results for medicine or science. ‘It is an opportunity for our establishments to contribute towards the development of genomics in Normandy,’ notes Prof. Marc-André Mahé, CEO of the François Baclesse Comprehensive Cancer Centre. ‘Today, human and animal health are two distinct worlds; however, it appears more than logical to associate them,’ he adds.

LABÉO hopes to place priority on its solid partnership with the François Baclesse Comprehensive Cancer Centre, within a context and an approach towards ‘one health’, in the heart of a regional hub of university, research and healthcare establishments. ‘Reinforcing our collaboration with the Centre was an obvious choice for us. The opportunity to benefit from such a platform has enabled us to do so within a healthcare approach which, over and above a simple concept, is a necessity to improve health, faster and to anticipate,’ explains LABÉO’s director Guillaume Fortier.

The collaboration also aims at structuring exchange between teams in order to pool skills and know-how, host students, welcome staff in training and to further improve mutual knowledge.

Shared infrastructures and state-of-the-art technologies

Teams will have access to the various facilities of both establishments. Reinforcing links between the two establishments will also enable investments to be rationalised and optimised towards increased complementarity.

Within the framework of the creation of the future genomics platform initiated by the Normandie Équine Vallée Mixed Syndicate, of which LABÉO is the leading tenant on its Saint-Contest site (Calvados), the François Baclesse Comprehensive Cancer Centre will be offered access to material, premises and office space in order to conduct the various projects hosted there.

Stéphane PRONOST, Deputy Director of the RDI division at LABEO, gave a tour of the premises.

‘I am delighted to formalise what is already a historic 10-year cooperation with LABÉO. This is an opportunity to offer our contribution towards medicine, human and animal health in a rapidly growing sector,’ Dr Vaur concludes.

from left to right: Angélina LEGROS, team leader in genetics at the François Baclesse Centre laboratory, Loïc LEGRAND, Head of the Virology and Molecular Biology Department at LABEO, Elise ODEN, research fellow at LABEO and Dr Dominique VAUR, Director of the Cancer Genetics Laboratory at the François Baclesse Centre.
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