PARIS, December 13, 2010 /PRNewswire/ -- Institut Mérieux strengthens its commitment to medicine and global public health via an ambitious innovation policy, the structuring of a food safety/nutrition hub and the creation of a company dedicated to diagnostics in developing countries.

One year after reinstating the historic name of Institut Mérieux for the family holding devoted to industrial biology, Alain Mérieux and the management teams of the companies, bioMérieux, Transgene, Mérieux Nutrisciences and Mérieux Développement, have presented the actions implemented within the scope of their innovation and international development strategy with:

- the structuring of a food safety/nutrition hub based around Mérieux NutriSciences, completing and supporting the diagnostic and therapeutic Areas covered by Institut Mérieux - the Group's innovation policy with, in particular, the first holdings by its investment company, Mérieux Développement - the development of biology accessible to all with the creation of IMAccess, a not-for-profit company devoted to diagnostics in developing countries.

"Institut Mérieux has undergone considerable changes to address the new global challenges in medicine and public health. The arrival of Jean-Luc Bélingard as Président Directeur Général of bioMérieux and Vice-President of Institut Mérieux will enable me to devote more time to Institut Mérieux and the Mérieux foundations", stated Alain Mérieux. "Now, more than ever, scientific innovation, multidisciplinary approaches and international development are at the heart of our strategy. In an ever-changing healthcare environment, with infectious disease representing a constant threat, the emergence of new risks associated with food and now better known interactions between infectious diseases, cancers and nutrition, we have made sure we have new resources to achieve our long-term targets. The structuring of a nutrition/health hub, which is highly complementary to our therapeutic and diagnostic activities, is a strong example. Our innovation strategy is also taking form with Mérieux Développement and a stronger international network of scientific experts. Finally, IMAccess aims to offer a complementary approach to conventional models, to make quality biology and diagnostics accessible to the greatest number and thus combat infectious diseases, with no borders between North and South."

Institut Mérieux prioritizes nutrition

Institut Mérieux is increasing its commitment in the area of food safety and nutrition by structuring a food safety/nutrition hub based around Mérieux NutriSciences. With Silliker, its very first company in the field of food safety, Biofortis and Bioagri, Mérieux Nutrisciences is now developing an end-to-end offering to meet the needs of players in the food processing chain: raw material and environmental safety and conformity, food quality, R&D and clinical trial program in the area of nutrition to help develop foods offering a health benefit.

The originality and strength of the Mérieux NutriSciences approach lie in the combination of Silliker's know-how in the food sector with Institut Mérieux's scientific expertise and international network, making it possible to include a medical vision and a public health dimension in all its activities.

With its financial structure strengthened by an increase in the subscribed capital by Institut Mérieux in 2010, Mérieux NutriSciences can envisage a relevant acquisition policy and speed up its international roll-out strategy, particularly in emerging countries such as China, India and Brazil.

Major advances in Institut Mérieux's innovation policy

One year after it was founded, Mérieux Développement has announced three minority holdings in innovative companies in the health sector:

- Supersonic Imagine, a French company based in Aix-en-Provence, which markets a new generation ultrasonic scanner, equipped with a cutting- edge imaging technique (ultrasound elastography), thus opening up further clinical applications in oncology, for diagnosis and characterization of lesions (breast, thyroid, liver, prostate). - QuantaLife, a Californian company, whose Droplet Digital(TM) PCR technology represents major progress in the area of molecular biology, in terms of sensitivity and precision, making it possible to offer multiple applications in human genetics and, in the medium term, an effective instrumentation solution for cancer and infectious disease diagnostics - Biom'Up, a French company based in Lyon, marketing innovative biomaterials and implantable medical devices for surgery and developing a new range of products (guided regeneration, adherence prevention and hemostasis), aimed at patient comfort and safety and simplified surgical procedures.

In the course of 2010, Mérieux Développement set up an international cooperation and joint investment network, along with a special partnership with the French Commissariat à l'Energie Atomique (CEA). The purpose of this partnership is support businesses developing high added medical value products, by means of an original approach based on complementary expertise and close cooperation with CEA Investissement.

The Mérieux Research Grants program steps up a gear. These grants are awarded to projects from leading researchers and clinicians in areas of strategic interest for Institut Mérieux: diagnostics, therapy and nutrition. Since the program was launched in 2009, over 20 grants have been awarded to researchers from public or private laboratories, in North America, Europe and Asia, on topics offering strong potential for the Group. This program helps strengthen Institut Mérieux's scientific network of experts around the world and give bioMérieux, Transgene and Mérieux NutriSciences access to clinical and technological advances which will be the source of new diagnostic tests and new therapies.

Serving global public health since its inception, Institut Mérieux is increasing its action in developing countries through the creation of IMAccess.

With IMAccess, Institut Mérieux, in keeping with its tradition, is seeking to place its expertise in infectious disease and its bio-industrial experience at the service of diagnostics accessible to the greatest number.

A 100% subsidiary of Institut Mérieux, this new company is dedicated to the development, production and supply of rapid diagnostic tests, for governments, international health organizations, NGOs, etc.

These tests, complying with the most exacting international quality standards and adapted to the frequently extreme constraints associated with use in the field, focus on diseases which are having a severe impact on underprivileged countries, such as AIDS, dengue, meningitis, malaria, Leishmaniasis, etc. The first products should be available in 2012.

IMAccess essentially relies on research and development teams based in France, Brazil and China, along with the Group's expertise in bioproduction and its distribution network.

In order to speed up the development of these tests and make them accessible in terms of price, IMAccess has adopted an original social business model, a not-for-profit company, reinvesting all its profits in its R&D programs.