An enlightening interview of French INSERM researcher Céline GAUDEL provides a unique opportunity to delve into the field of fundamental research aimed at discovering breakthrough genetic research to better deal with depigmenting treatments.
In spite of a very busy schedule, warm and smiling Céline GAUDEL welcomed us in her lab a few days ago. A young and talented French researcher from INSERM (The French National Institute of Health and Medical Research), she accepted an informal interview to explain the research she is currently conducting for and with French-based dermo-cosmetics company NUNII Laboratoire.
Q: Céline, would you mind introducing yourself briefly?
Céline GAUDEL: My pleasure! My name is Céline GAUDEL; I hold a Ph.D. in Life and Health Sciences, and from a very early age on, I have been interested in biology and its mysteries. Very soon in my life, I tried to understand how the human body functions, and as I progressed in my academic career, I quickly showed a keen interest in anything connected with human physiology.
I spent 3 years in Dublin, working as post-doctoral researcher, then I joined the C3M lab in Nice, France, to deepen my scientific knowledge while working with a team of researchers. Within the course of these experiences, I devoted my time to research on new therapies which targeted diabetes and melanoma. Working in Nice is really a plus in my field of research, as the Nice hospital is located nearby, which enables me to develop close relationships with the staff there. I can for example easily obtain samples from patients, which facilitates my research and saves considerable time in my progress.
Q: What is the nature and scope of the ties you have with NUNII Laboratoire?
C.G.: Along with my team, I am fully involved with NUNII at this point. It is quite unusual to see such quality collaborative work between a private company and a public research institute in France, particularly in my field of investigation. As a matter of fact, when I was given the occasion to work along with NUNII on skin depigmentation, I seized the opportunity because the project is both challenging and highly interesting. Besides, so far, few teams have focused on this area of research, so this makes the project all the more attractive. The partnership with NUNII holds on a strong mutual scientific foundation, which is one of the prerequisites for solid, quality research.
Q: What have been the main steps in your research so far?
C.G.: Well, expectedly, we started reviewing all the research literature on the latest depigmenting agents and concentrated on target cells connected with depigmentation, we also used large-scale genomic screening to obtain the best possible results.
We are really treading uncharted territory here; we have tried to identify which genes play a role in the pigmentation process, which isn’t a simple task! The process is really time-consuming, and to be honest, as is often the case in research, when we started our research protocols, we didn’t know that we were going to obtain tangible results. In every research process, there is an element of luck; let’s face it.
It is also crucial to bear in mind that the process of melanogenesis is very complex; and throughout our research, our approach has been to try to interrupt this process and stop it so that hyperpigmentation disorders do not appear and/or progress. This has been achieved through the use of in-vivo cells that we have altered by acting on some of their genes in switching off their expression: needless to say, the process is highly delicate and truly painstaking.
Q: So, this seems to truly be fundamental research?
C.G.: Yes, indeed, it is very much that. In fact, this is a type of fundamental research that is very rarely conducted by labs, and our choice from the onset of this project was to concentrate on genes that had been so far somewhat neglected by field research: our strategy is therefore to optimize our research by doing so.
More precisely, our task consists in identifying new genes which are at the root of the pigmentation process, in order to hopefully block the melanogenesis process inside the cells. Alongside this approach, we are trying at the same time to check if some molecules acting as blockers could work inside the cells to inhibit the melanogenesis process. The ultimate goal would be to turn such molecules into a homogenous compound which we could integrate into a cream that would ultimately block the pigmentation process with patients.
Once again, NUNII stands out as a company that is at the forefront of research. The very nature and effectiveness of NUNII products shows that R. and D. has been part of the ethos of the company since its inception, and the latest research holds promising results, which will enable the company to provide ever-more effective depigmenting products to patients worldwide to better address skin pigmentation problems and disorders such as melanoma, dark spots or pregnancy masks, to name but a few.