Université de Strasbourg

Alain Prochiantz

Alain Prochiantz

Alain Prochiantz is emeritus professor in Neurobiology at the Collège de France. He was director of the French National Centre for Scientific Research (CNRS) unit "Development and evolution of the nervous system" and of the biology department at the ENS. At the Collège de France, he set up and directed a Centre for Interdisciplinary Research in Biology, with 18 teams working in different fields of life sciences. From 2015 to 2019 was Dean of the Collège de France.

He is a former student of the École normale supérieure (ENS) and completed his PhD at the Paris Diderot University. Following the defense of his PhD thesis on the structure of messenger RNAs of plant picornaviruses, Alain Prochiantz specialised in the study of cerebral morphogenesis. 

His major scientific breakthroughs concern the discovery of the topological heterogeneity of cerebral astrocytes and that of a novel signaling mechanism based on the intercellular transfer of homeoprotein transcription factors. His team is interested in the role this signaling pathway plays during the development of the brain, but also in adults, as well as in the pathologies associated with its alterations. A particularly striking result is the possibility of reopening periods of plasticity in the cerebral cortex by temporarily blocking the internalisation of the Otx2 homeoprotein by interneurons in layer IV of the cerebral cortex. This reopening made it possible to restore binocular vision in mice with experimental amblyopia.

Based on the analysis of the secretion and internalisation mechanisms of these proteins, his team discovered the first peptides capable of crossing cell membranes and serving as vectors for the intracellular delivery of pharmacological substances. In this context, they are studying the possibility of using certain homeoproteins as therapeutic proteins in a number of pathologies, including Parkinson's disease. 

His scientific work has led to several translational developments including the development of vector peptides and the use of homeoproteins as therapeutic proteins. The latter translational aspects have been at the origin of the Biotech Company BrainEver, a company that specialises in neurological and psychiatric diseases, in which he serves as Chief Scientific Officer. 

In addition to his scientific research, Alain Prochiantz is the author of several books for the general public.

Webpage Collège de France

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