Using fungi to slow down cellular ageing

10 May 2022

Founded in 2014, KiOmed Pharma is a spin-off of KitoZyme. As explained by François Blondel, Founder and Executive Chairman of the Board of Directors, and Houtai Choumane, CEO of KiOmed Pharma, its aim is to offer solutions to cellular ageing using innovation based on mushrooms.

Text: Philippe Van Lil – © 2022 Mediaplanet Group

How does your innovation provide a solution for the healthcare sector? 

François Blondel: ‘We work in three specific areas: degradation of the cartilage and the synovial fluid of joints, in order to combat problems with arthritis; skin ageing, which can result in the appearance of wrinkles; drying of the ocular surface, which is commonly known as ‘dry eye syndrome’. To slow down the ageing of tissues in these three so-called ‘degenerative’ diseases, we have developed a unique technology for producing chitosan, a polymer from the polysaccharide family, from mushrooms. Until now, chitosan was an animal-based product and was most commonly made from shellfish and prawns. Offering a mushroom-based product is a major innovation which will benefit a lot of patients.’

In what way can this technology be considered progress?

Houtai Choumane: ‘This polymer is particularly effective against oxidative stress. The latter phenomenon, which is caused by environmental factors, accelerates the ageing of cells, cartilage, the dermis and the eye. There are no medicines to cure these diseases, but treatments like ours treat the symptoms. In other words, patients suffer less, find walking easier and enjoy a better quality of life. As an example, our chitosan can help with advanced arthritis when other treatments have been ineffective.’

F.B.: ‘The product we are offering can be less allergenic than animal-based products. It can replace hyaluronic acid, a product that has long been used to combat arthritis and for other applications. However, the effectiveness of this acid, which is extracted from the combs of roosters, is very limited over time; in addition, 40% of patients with arthritis do not respond to this treatment. Our products offer solutions to these two limitations. In addition, we also have better control of the production processes.’

What form does your product come in?

F.B.: ‘In the form of a gel that is injected using a syringe, for arthritis and skin. For eyes, it comes in the form of drops. In terms of arthritis, we achieve very good efficacy thanks to a unique product which acts for up to approximately ten months following just one injection. To combat skin ageing, we are developing two types of products: injections to improve skin hydration and quality by reducing oxidative stress; and dermatological fillers to treat wrinkles. These latter treatments are more invasive than creams, but are more effective.’

H.C.: ‘We should also mention that, in aesthetic dermatology, one of our clinical trials has produced excellent results. On this basis, we have just submitted a protocol with a view to registering a first product in 2024.’

Have your solutions been published?

H. C.: ‘Yes, of course. Our work on advanced arthritis has been accepted by the World Congress on Osteoporosis, Osteoarthritis and Musculoskeletal Diseases and two other papers have recently been published in Plos One and the European Journal of Dermatology. In order to promote our product, we also regularly attend conferences, as was the case for the International Symposium on Intra-Articular Treatment. Finally, we also have clinical trials on arthritis, notably in Belgium, where we compared our product to the market leaders. Our products are gaining visibility. For the good of patients.’

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