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Labex LERMIT - Laboratory of Excellence in Drug Discovery and Therapeutic Innovation

Laboratoire d'excellence (labex)   / Laboratoire d'excellence (labex) Article published on 10 January 2020 , Updated on 18 May 2020

A gathering of biologists, doctors and chemists designing and producing medicines of the future.

logo Labex Lermit

The LERMIT LabEx : objectives and research

LERMIT brings together biologists, chemists, physico-chemists and medical experts in order to conceive and produce the medicines of the future. The purpose of this LabEx is to combat three major classes of disease: cancer, cardiovascular diseases and infectious and immune system diseases.

One of the great challenges of LERMIT is to be able to follow a discovery from the laboratory to the bedside. Its purpose is to allow technological advances made at LERMIT to be transferred to SMEs for industrial development, or to lead to the creation of start-ups likely to develop these advances on an industrial scale.

The joint effort by researchers in this laboratory of excellence covers:

  • the discovery of new therapeutic targets;
  • the conception and development of new drugs to treat or stop the progression of these diseases;
  • improving the effectiveness of current therapies;
  • improving the understanding of molecular mechanisms responsible for these diseases;
  • developing new strategies to improve the addressing and controlled release of active principles at the site of the disease.

Elite education and academic research at LERMIT

At LERMIT LabEx, doctoral students and young employees from biotechnology companies and the pharmaceutical industry will be exposed to major advances in therapeutic research. This LabEx will generate intellectual property and encourage the development of industrial projects (spin-offs) from academic research teams.


Innovative therapeutic projects will be supported within LERMIT up to preclinical studies or phase I/II clinical trials. Biotechnology companies, from LabEx partner labs or large pharmaceutical companies, will take over from the development at this stage.

15 laboratories, more than 500 people: a unique combination of varied expertise

In order to achieve its goal, the LERMIT LabEx will be based on a unique combination of varied expertise present in 15 laboratories that bring together more than 500 people specialising in biology/medicine, chemistry-biology, medicinal chemistry, physical-chemistry and pharmaceutical sciences, from CEA, CNRS, ENS Paris-Saclay, INSERM (Institut national de la santé et de la recherche médicale – National Institute for Health and Medical Research) and Université Paris-Sud.

The research of LabEx partners in biology/medicine inquires into cardiovascular diseases, inflammation and immune deficiencies, infectious diseases and cancer.

Partners in chemistry and physical-chemistry are researching:

  • organic synthesis (green and environmentally compatible chemistry);
  • extraction and purification of natural compounds;
  • modelling;
  • imaging;
  • pharmaceutical sciences;
  • nanomedicine;
  • addressing.

Each LabEx partner laboratory is currently between 0 and 30 km from other partners, but most aim to assemble on the Saclay Plateau to facilitate interactions.

"Targets, resistance and addressing": the three research areas

1. "Targets": identify and validate new therapeutic targets

This research area will identify and validate new therapeutic targets. This will include the discovery of molecular mechanisms, proof of concept in cell and animal models, the "screening" of chemical libraries, chemical validation and optimisation of hits obtained, preliminary ADMET and druggability tests, molecular modelling, evaluating leads in animal models, etc. 

Three projects aim to discover new molecules that are effective against cardiovascular disease, inflammation and immune deficiency, and cancer.

2. "Resistance": new strategies against the reduced efficacy of medications

This research area works to identify new strategies to circumvent the reduced efficacy of medications. This obviously concerns resistance to antibiotics and anticancer agents, but also more recently resistance to immunotherapies. The phenomenon of resistance involves molecular mechanisms, such as the mutation or relocation of the target enzyme. The identification of these mechanisms allows a predictive approach to structural pharmacology and the creation of new, more effective molecules.

Two specific projects are proposed, one to combat antibiotic resistance in Gram-negative bacteria (R1), the other to overcome treatment failure in patients with rheumatoid arthritis (R2).

3. "Addressing": developing new addressing systems

This area aims to develop new addressing systems, mainly based on micro and nano technologies, to improve:

  • the delivery of therapeutic molecules on the target while avoiding wide distribution which may induce toxicity;
  • protection against degradation;
  • the transport of molecules across biological barriers.

Through this expertise in cardiovascular disease, LERMIT proposes an innovative and ambitious multidisciplinary project to target the cardiovascular sphere and pulmonary vasculature.