Meeting with Julien Hédou, X15 and CEO of Surge2surgery, who developed with his team an immunological model capable of predicting postoperative infections with a much better accuracy than existing risk scales.
COULD YOU INTRODUCE US TO SURGE2SURGERY ?
The project was built around understanding the immune response to surgical trauma. It is the culmination of 10 years of work at Stanford University in the laboratory of Brice Gaudilliere. These years of study have made it possible to characterize the immunological signature of surgical trauma, and to create an assay that makes it possible to stimulate cells in vitro to recreate surgical trauma one month before surgery. The technology used analyzes the cells one by one (1 million cells on a patient) and measures their response to trauma. It is this signature that allows the prediction of the patient's reaction in the post-operative period: either a good recovery and no complications (infections, pneumonia, etc.) or, on the contrary, a problematic reaction that can lead to complications, sometimes very severe.
HAVE YOU ENCOUNTERED ANY LEGAL OR REGULATORY DIFFICULTIES OR BARRIERS IN YOUR ENTREPRENEURIAL ADVENTURE ?
One of the biggest barriers to starting a business in the medical sector is to understand the steps to take to overcome the regulatory barriers. For everything that concerns diagnostic tests, there are many regulations that are set in the United States with the FDA (Food and Drug Administration) for example. One of the big challenges for our project is to succeed in obtaining the accreditations that will allow us to satisfy all the regulations in force and thus to sell our test.
WHAT ARE THE NEXT STEPS FOR SURGE2SURGERY? WILL THE TECHNOLOGY BE LAUNCHED AT THE END OF YOUR CLINICAL TRIAL ?
The objective of this clinical trial is to implement our solution in real time in a clinical process. At the end of this trial, we will have demonstrated our ability to put in place the processes that will allow us to be integrated into the patient's surgical pathway in the hospital, so that surgeons can prescribe the test. This is a crucial step before the launch, as the scientific efficacy has already been proven and protected with the patent we filed in March.
WHAT DID YOUR SECOND PLACE IN THE ALLIANCE SOCIAL ENTERPRISE CHALLENGE BRING YOU AND HOW WILL YOU USE THE PRIZE MONEY ?
The $7500 endowment will be used to finalize our prototype version of the kit, which can then be integrated into hospitals. Currently, we have a version of the test that is not yet ready to be collected in any health care facility. This endowment will help create a highly standardized kit that will allow blood to be drawn and stimulated directly with this mock surgery in a tube.
WHAT DO YOU GENERALLY GAIN FROM PARTICIPATING IN ENTREPRENEURIAL COMPETITIONS ?
These participations allow us to educate people on the subject of precision medicine. The current situation has already informed everyone about the impact of the immune system to understand how patients can react to different traumas or sources of stress. It's a good time to gain visibility to a solution that is very much in tune with the times and will really allow medicine to be tailored to each patient's unique profile. We are trying to seize this opportunity to push Surge2Surgery and succeed in passing some key steps in the realization of this project.
WHAT DID YOUR STUDIES AT THE ECOLE POLYTECHNIQUE AND YOUR BACKGROUND IN GENERAL BRING TO THIS ENTREPRENEURIAL EXPERIENCE ?
Two things mainly. On the one hand, the scientific aspect, which is perhaps the most important aspect. Indeed, my studies at X allowed me to build myself as a curious person and capable of understanding research at the interface of different scientific disciplines. The techniques we use today combine physics, medicine, biology and computer science (data science). This multidisciplinary aspect of X is something unique that allows us to develop this kind of technology. The entrepreneurial training at X, which I had the chance to benefit from thanks to my 3rd year master's degree in entrepreneurship, gave me the courage to say to myself that it was possible to launch myself into entrepreneurship and to understand the ins and outs in order to transform a scientific discovery into a potential company.
IN YOUR OPINION, IS THERE A "BLUEPRINT" FOR BEING A PERFECT ENTREPRENEUR OR ARE THERE KEY QUALITIES NEEDED IN THE WORLD OF ENTREPRENEURSHIP ?
There are so many different types of entrepreneurship that I don't think. For example, I'm in healthcare, diagnostics, and immunology, but in a company that does software, the expertise I've developed wouldn't be as useful in understanding the issues around technology. Otherwise, you have to be curious and persistent.
ANY ADVICE FOR SOMEONE WHO WANTS TO BECOME AN ENTREPRENEUR ?
Most of the entrepreneurs I've talked to all feel that they are sometimes caught off guard and don't have all the skills they need right off the bat. The main advice I would give to someone considering starting a startup is to not be afraid to make mistakes, because that is a key dimension of an entrepreneur's journey.