Franck Zal is one of those people who have questions about everything around him. At the beach, he observes the marine worms nestled in the sand. "I wondered how they were breathing, since they live both in the sand and in the water. I was mistaken for a fool ", he smiles.
In 2000, he discovers that the animal, also called lugworm or buzuk in Breton, has a blood different from ours. It is able to store oxygen much longer. "He breathes at high tide and lives apnea at low tide, ie for 6 hours, summarizes the researcher. With this discovery, we revolutionize whole areas of medicine!
So he leaves his job as a researcher at CNRS where he has been working for fifteen years and founded Hemarina, a marine biotechnology company, in Morlaix (Finistère), in 2007. «The elected officials of Morlaix community trusted me, he underlines. So I want to stay here. At first, I was alone in a small office, in a business incubator.
A company that is growing
Today, Hemarina is about 40 employees, a livestock farm that produces 30 tons of worms in Noirmoutier and future premises of 4 000 m² will install near the airport. Business leader, accountant, … the researcher was formed progressively for especially "keep control of [son] capital."
With sixty patents filed worldwide, Frank Zal's discovery is currently in three ways. The first, Hemoxy carrier, allows the extraction of blood from the worm and lyophilize it. Becoming powder, the blood can be stored for five years at room temperature (instead of 42 days at 4 ° C). "This means that we can carry large volumes of blood and thus transfuse more easily on an accident, a battlefield," explains the head of the company. The US Navy has already shown interest
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Second declension: transplantation with Hemo2life. By injecting this blood into an organ ready to be transplanted, the organ remains viable longer (seven days instead of 40 hours normally). "Sixty-one people were transplanted with lugworm blood, including one for a facial transplant. All the organs were functional and there was no rejection ", welcomes the researcher.
Last major development, healing with Hemhealing. With dressings soaked in a gel containing the molecules of the lymphatic blood, the speed of healing is multiplied by ten.
Today, Hemo2life is waiting to obtain its CE marking for a bet on the market by 2019. Clinical trials are still ongoing for the other two variations. Franck Zal has also taken precautions by listing his product with the World Anti-Doping Agency.
The researcher would like to set up a pharmaceutical company and, if things go well, create a medical foundation because, he is convinced: "We must all bring something to humanity. "