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Interview - TSA

Dr S OUNZAIN > Articles Presse > English

An Algerian researcher (native of BOU-ISMAIL) was awarded on 16/11/2017 in Basel, Switzerland by the Swiss International Innovation Forum.

TSA - Algerian Electronic Daily published this morning 30/11/2017, a report on Samir

Here is the link:

Samir Ounzain, an Algerian at the forefront of heart failure research
By: Hassane Saadoun 30 Nov 2017 at 13:44

Samir Ounzain

Samir Ounzain is an Algerian-British researcher in biochemistry, molecular biology and molecular cardiology. His work on heart failure and myocardial fibrosis has made a major breakthrough in the treatment of this disease, which kills millions of people every year.
Its start-up Haya Therapeutics won the Swiss Innovation Forum on November 16th and was one of the first two start-ups selected to join a leading-edge research center in Lausanne, Switzerland.
He agreed to give more details about himself, his company, his projects and his relations with Algeria in this interview.

Who is Samir Ounzain

I was born in Koléa, Algeria in 1983 and lived in Bousmail, my father's and my family's hometown until I was 3 years old. My dad met my mother from Bradford, England when he was a student in the UK. They returned to Algeria where my sister and I were born before returning to the UK in 1986 for my father to complete his PhD. I then lived in the UK, Bradford, Leeds, Leicester, Essex and London until the age of 28, when I moved to Lausanne, Switzerland.

The work you do is at the forefront of heart disease research. What is the training that brought you to such work

After finishing high school in 2001 at William De Ferrers School, South Woodham Ferrers, Essex, UK, I went to Leeds University to complete a B.Sc. in Biochemistry with Molecular Biology. I then moved to the Department of Cardiovascular Sciences at the University of Leicester, in Sir Nilesh Samani's laboratory, to complete a PhD in Molecular Cardiology.
I then moved to postdoctoral training at Great Ormond Street Institute of Child Health at UCL (University College London) .2011 I joined the Experimental Cardiology Unit of the University School of Medicine. de Lausanne (CHUV) to continue my postdoctoral research and establish a research program characterizing the roles of non-coding RNAs in cardiac development and diseases. Here, I supervised a number of students, including two Ph.D. students who have graduated and are now doing postdoctoral research at elite institutions in California.

In your start-up, you're doing research on heart failure, a widespread disease that kills millions of people every year. What is your discovery? Will it bring a breakthrough in the treatment of heart failure?

Haya Therapeutics is a Swiss-based preclinical biopharmaceutical company that discovers and develops novel non-coding RNA targeting therapies for the treatment of myocardial fibrosis and heart failure. Heart failure, a consequence of myocardial fibrosis, is the largest killer in the world and represents a significant unmet medical need.
There is currently no therapy directly targeting the heart or the fibrotic process itself. We discovered a fibrotic regulator specific to a drug heart - the long non-coding RNA, Wisper.
Using our leading proprietary approach to targeting Wisper, we are able to block myocardial fibrosis and treat heart failure in preclinical animal models. Our mission is to take this unprecedented groundbreaking discovery from the lab bench to the hospital bed, helping millions of patients around the world.

Is this a whole new approach that your discovery allows in the treatment of heart failure?

With our growing knowledge of the cellular and molecular causes leading to the development of heart failure, we have potentially discovered a wealth of new, innovative and targeted approaches to directly address the causes of this devastating disease and not just to relieve symptoms.
We believe that targeting non-coding RNAs, such as Wisper (which we have discovered this year), represents the next generation of therapeutic approach to helping millions of patients around the world suffering from this disease.

Your company is young but looks promising, what are its plans and prospects?

We are currently in our funding period to increase investments to allow us to move forward with preclinical models of large animals. This funding and these preclinical studies will allow us to initiate clinical trials in humans in the next 3-4 years.
We are also delighted to be recognized as gold winners by MassChallenge Switzerland and recently selected as one of the two outstanding life science companies to enter the new Biotech incubator, StartLab, at the Biopole complex in Lausanne, Switzerland. Swiss.

Your Start-up is called Haya Therapeutics, a name that has a certain Algerian connotation. Why this name

HAYA-T means "life" in Arabic and the goal of our company is to try to bring and prolong life to the millions of patients in the world suffering from heart failure which is ultimately and unfortunately a deadly disease without remedy for the moment.

Your father is Algerian, you were born in Algeria but you spent a large part of your life in the United Kingdom and Switzerland. What links do you have with Algeria

Yes, I have very strong links with Algeria. The majority of my father's family, my uncles, aunts, cousins, still live in Algeria, and I visit the country almost every year to see them.
Algeria has and will always have a special place in my heart and I would like to help develop the biotechnology industry in this country. This is the century of biotechnology and I hope that Algeria will participate and contribute to this scientific revolution. I will always be happy to help and try to be involved offering my experience in Algeria whenever possible.

Have you ever had contacts with researchers, specialists or Algerian officials for a possible collaboration

I am constantly proposing collaborations but Algerian officials do not accept. For example, a few years ago, during a big congress of cardiology in Barcelona, ??I spoke with an Algerian cardiologist doctor responsible for the Algerian cardiology society, but unfortunately he did not listen to me.
It would have been a pleasure for me to make communications in Algeria and to work with Algerians but local officials are not interested.

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