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© Eric Tambutté

Hosted by MonacoTech, the start-up programme backed by the Monegasque State, Coraliotech is a marine biotechnology company that is engaged in innovative and promising activities: it has found a way to use coral products in healthcare applications.

Discovered and developed with the Monaco Scientific Centre, which is recognised for its coral studies, the process is also environmentally friendly.

 

“Corals: molecules with extraordinary therapeutic potential”
 Read Rachid Benchaouir's interview

Coraliotech was founded in 2017 by Rachid Benchaouir, who has a PhD in Genetic Biology. The company’s aim is to produce, evaluate and extract value from coral molecules using invention patents. With their regenerative properties, corals offer qualities that can help to protect the skin (particularly against UV rays and chemical agents) or fight some types of cancer.

These substances are of interest to major pharmaceutical and cosmetic companies.

 

© Coraliotech
© Centre Scientifique de Monaco

Conscious that coral ecosystems are extremely fragile and endangered by pollution and global warming, Coraliotech has also developed an eco-friendly technology: the required products are produced using a DNA sequence supplied by teams from the Monaco Scientific Centre, meaning that exploitation of the coral itself is not required.

This innovative project is currently at the pre-industrial production phase.

Interview

“Corals: molecules with extraordinary therapeutic potential”

A start-up incubated in Monaco, Coraliotech exploits the properties of red coral. Rachid Benchaouir, the company’s founder and managing partner, explains how the start-up is targeting pharmaceutical, cosmetic and biotechnology markets all over the world, thanks to coral.

In which area of healthcare are corals showing the most promise? Cancer treatments? Anti-inflammatories? Antimicrobials?

Corals are organisms which have some special characteristics that suggest we may identify molecules with extraordinary therapeutic potential! They are subjected to numerous and frequent physical (warming waters, solar radiation, etc.), chemical (pollution, oxidation, salinity, pH, etc.) and even biological (predators, various microbes, invasive algae, etc.) changes. To combat all of these various stresses, they have been able to draw on a full arsenal of defensive, structural and regulatory molecules that help them to withstand different threats and continue to grow. Some coral molecules – ‘toxins’ – have been assessed or are in the process of being assessed for their potential role in treating cancer. In addition, it is becoming increasingly clear to marine biology researchers that antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory molecules (to combat the effects of microbial proliferation) are at work within corals and are capable of healing themselves to some extent thanks to the substances that they are able to synthesise. The role of coral molecules in bone regeneration is also a very advanced field of research.

What specific applications do you envisage in the short term?

In the development of medicines, the long road to reach the ‘pharmaceutical holy grail’ – a marketing authorisation – is a long one. For this reason, Coraliotech initially focused on the appeal that its products had for another type of market: the wellbeing and cosmetics industry, where much quicker market access is possible! So with the signature of two promising initial assessment contracts with cosmetics companies, we felt it was strategically important to focus our attention on products with cosmetic benefits (anti-ageing, anti-UV, antioxidants, skin protection).

Monaco Scientific Centre is a shareholder in Coraliotech. Who are your other partners?

In terms of capital, Monaco Scientific Centre officially invested in Coraliotech’s share capital in early 2021. My longstanding partner is Caroline Rougaignon-Vernin, Chair of the Economic, Social and Environmental Council. Coraliotech is forging a close partnership (however, not one based on capital) with the Monegasque incubator/accelerator MonacoTech, which is our current home.

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