Pascal Mayer receives the prestigious breakthrough prize for his massive parallel sequencing technology codecovery.

Aujourd’hui à la tête de la société Alphanosos qu’il a créée en 2014 sur le site Riomois du Biopôle Clermont-Limagne, Pascal Mayer vient de recevoir le Breakthrough Prize dans la catégorie des sciences de la vie, pour sa codécouverte d’une technologie mise au point il y a près de 25 ans et qui a révolutionnée l’analyse ADN.

C’est grâce à cette technologie, le séquençage nouvelle génération (NGS), que les analyses ADN peuvent être désormais menées à grande vitesse et pour un coût nettement revu à la baisse. L’une des clés de la technique : créer des colonies ou clusters d’ADN, en découpant le génome en petits morceaux, dont on fait ensuite des milliers de copies formant des ilots microscopiques. Regroupés sur un même support, ils peuvent être lus simultanément et plus facilement par fluorescence.

Pascal Mayer, now head of the Alphanosos company he created in 2014 on the Riom site of the Biopôle Clermont-Limagne, has just received the Breakthrough Prize in the life sciences category, for its co-discovery of a technology developed nearly 25 years ago that revolutionized DNA analysis.

Assembled together, they can be read simultaneously and more easily by fluorescence.

For example, the sequencing of the first complete human genome was completed in 2003, after ten years and an investment of over $1 billion. Thanks to NGS, also called massive parallel sequencing, the process can now be done overnight at a cost of $1,000.

Massive parallel sequencing is now used on a large scale and around the world to diagnose and treat certain cancers and rare diseases, in forensic investigations, or in sequencing COVID and its variants.

After studying at the University of Strasbourg and completing postdoctoral fellowships in Canada and in France, Mayer tested his idea for the first time in Geneva, in the research center of a pharmaceutical company where he then worked.

The technology was later acquired by a start-up founded by Balasubramanian and Klenerman, two British scientists working on the same problem.  Their company was eventually bought by the US genetic research company Illumina, the global leader in genetic sequencing, which has 17,000 sequencing machines around the globe.

The American prize, launched by Silicon Valley entrepreneurs to recognize the latest scientific advances, carries an award of a hefty $3 million,

The American prize, which rewards breakthroughs in basic research, is endowed with $3 million shared between the three co-creators.

Pascal Mayer intends to reinvest part of it to support the development of projects carried out by his company Alphanosos. After the «Next Generation Sequencing» (NGS), it develops, thanks to its rapid discovery platform guided by its owner AI, «Next Generation Therapeutics» against pathogens, in particular those involved in eczema, acne, psoriasis, and gonorrhea, and the COVID virus, with promising results in mice.


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