Breaking barriers

VECT-HORUS is a biotechnology company that designs and develops peptide-based vectors that facilitate the delivery of drugs or imaging agents into organs, notably into the brain, and to tumors. The vectors target receptors involved in “Receptor Mediated Transport” (RMT, a physiological system for the transport into cells of endogenous substances). By combining drugs or imaging agents to its vectors, VECT-HORUS allows them to cross biological barriers that restrict access to their target, notably the blood-brain barrier (BBB).

The company has already established the proof of concept of its technology in animal models by vectorizing an endogenous neuropeptide, which led to a novel proprietary drug-candidate with neuroprotective properties. This first drug-candidate has now entered regulatory preclinical phase.

Founded in 2005, by Alexandre TOKAY, CEO, and Dr. Michel KHRESTCHATISKY, Scientific Advisor, VECT-HORUS is a spin-off of the neurobiology laboratory directed by Dr. Michel KHRESTCHATISKY (UMR7529, CNRS and Aix-Marseille University). Based in Marseille, France, the company has 17 employees, mostly in R&D, and develops academic collaborations with the CNRS, INSERM and CEA as well as industrial partnerships.

VECT-HORUS was recently identified by the CNRS as one of the 15 success stories among 1,000 spin-offs from its laboratories (see press release).



VECT-HORUS’ mission is to provide innovative delivery technologies that overcome biological barriers, primarily the BBB, opening new avenues in the treatment and imaging of central nervous system diseases and cancers.

VECT-HORUS’ ambition is to become a leader in the promising market of therapeutics and diagnostics delivery, especially in the brain.


The blood-brain barrier (BBB) prevents entry into the brain of most toxic molecules and infectious agents but also restricts very effectively the passage of imaging or therapeutic agents from blood to brain. An estimated 98% of all active drugs and virtually all biomolecules developed by the biopharmaceutical industry, including peptides, proteins and therapeutic antibodies, are not able to cross the BBB.

The scientific approach of VECT-HORUS is based on the principle that complex biological barriers, the first of which the BBB, are not only physical barriers, but also functional barriers whose natural transport mechanisms may be advantageously used to deliver drugs or imaging agents into their target territory: organ, brain, tumor, etc.

To overcome biological barriers and thus reduce the attrition rate of CNS drugs, VECT-HORUS combines molecules of interest to peptide-vectors that specifically target receptors involved in receptor mediated transport (RMT). This approach is presently considered as one of the most effective and safest way to by-pass the BBB and deliver biomolecules to the brain.



Depending on the targeted receptors and vectors, VECT-HORUS’ technology has the potential to address different organs (brain and others) and pathological conditions including acute or chronic neurodegeneration, rare diseases, cancers…

Potential to conjugate vectors (VH) to different radionuclides for imaging:

  • SPECT VH-(99mTc, 123I/125I, 111In)
  • PET  VH-(68Ga, 18F, 11C, 13N, 15O)

Potential to conjugate vectors to different classes of imaging or therapeutic agents:

  • Small organic molecules such as fluorophores, anticancer drugs (paclitaxel, doxorubicin...)
  • Peptides: neuropeptides, analgesic peptides…
  • Proteins: therapeutic proteins, enzyme replacement therapy for rare and orphan diseases, monoclonal antibodies…
  • Oligonucleotides: antisense oligos, siRNAs, aptamers, morpholinos, ribozymes…


Founded in 2005, by Alexandre TOKAY and Dr. Michel KHRESTCHATISKY, the company has 17 employees, mostly in R&D.

Founders & Management

Scientific Advisory Board

Four renowned scientists in neuropharmacology and molecular engineering bring their expertise to VECT-HORUS


In close collaboration with top academic research centers (CNRS, CEA, INSERM), VECT-HORUS has set up a unique screening platform of peptide and nanobody libraries to identify and optimize RMT-based vectors and conjugate them with any type of molecules of interest:  small organic molecules, peptides, therapeutic proteins, monoclonal antibodies and oligonucleotides.

VECT-HORUS technology advantages:

  • Short (down to 8 amino-acids), cyclic, chemically optimized peptides (synthesis of economically viable commercial quantities)
  • High affinity and stable RMT-based vectors (half-life in fresh blood from 1h30 to more than 9h, depending on the vectors)
  • Customized conjugates with or without linkers
  • Validation in in vitro BBB models and animal models
  • Novel, fully patentable, new chemical entities (NCEs)

Vect-Horus' Platforms

Genetic Engineering, Molecular & Cellular Biology, Biochemistry

  • Development of cell lines expressing specific receptors
  • Coupling of large molecules using genetic engineering
  • Affinity and stability of drug candidates

of Vectors
& Conjugates

  • Chemical coupling with various drugs (small drugs, peptides, proteins, Abs)
  • Purification & Analysis
  • Development of cleavable and non-cleavable linkers


In vitro BBB Models
In vivo BBB Technology

  • Screening of drugs across the BBB
  • Intracellular distribution (parenchyma, microvessels, etc.)
  • Confocal imaging

In vivo Studies

  • Brain uptake using in situ brain perfusion model
  • Pharmacokinetics and biodistribution in various organs
  • Efficacy in animal models (neuroprotection, alzheimer, etc.)

Reviews and scientific publications


VECT-HORUS has identified and chemically optimized families of peptide-vectors that bind receptors expressed at the BBB such as the low-density lipoprotein receptor (LDLR) and members of the LDLR family. The company has also initiated a R&D program on RMT systems more specific of the BBB.

VECT-HORUS has demonstrated its capability to :

  • Conjugate its peptide-vectors to different types of molecules and macromolecular complexes: small organic molecules (imaging agents and anticancer drugs), siRNAs, peptides, proteins and antibodies
  • Transport conjugates in vitro, into different cell types expressing the target receptors, including endothelial cells of the BBB and glioblastoma cells, and in vivo (across the BBB)
  • Bring the proof-of-concept (POC) in various animal models (hypothermia, analgesia, neuroprotection)
  • Induce hypothermia with a new vector-conjugated neuropeptide (this endogenous neuropeptide does not cross the BBB when systemically administered alone) that entered into regulatory preclinical phase at Q1 2015
  • Another POC was demonstrated by an academic group using one of the VH peptide-vectors in animals implanted with gliobastoma and treated with vectorized nanoparticles loaded with Paclitaxel*

Taken together, these results demonstrate POC of VECT-HORUS’ approach.

*Zhang B, Sun X, Mei H, Wang Y, Liao Z, Chen J, Zhang Q, Hu Y, Pang Z, Jiang X. LDLR-mediated peptide-22-conjugated nanoparticles for dual-targeting therapy of brain glioma. Biomaterials. 2013 Dec;34(36):9171-82. doi: 10.1016/j.biomaterials.2013.08.039. Epub 2013 Sep 3. PubMed PMID: 24008043.



By leveraging its proprietary platform technology VECT-HORUS has developed a hybrid business model:

External collaborations with Partners

VECT-HORUS mission is to make its highly innovative platform technology available to pharmaceuticals and biotech partners to transport their drugs to the brain and other organs. The Company has combined solid competences and expertise in various R&D areas and has  set up well-structured and equipped technological platforms.

Internal pipeline of proprietary drug candidates

VECT-HORUS is building a pipeline of proprietary drug candidates for internal development to be developed until preclinical of early clinical trials. These products are available for  licensing-out. See pipeline.


Partnering Research Organization

VECT-HORUS intends to generate novel, fully patentable, NCEs that address unmet medical needs, in particular in CNS diseases, cancers, imaging and radiotherapy.

VECT-HORUS is open to a variety of partnership agreements, including co-development and out-licensing opportunities.

Interested in partnering with VECT-HORUS? please contact us

Founding & Academic Partners


Industrial & Financial Partners

Latest news about vect-horus

  • Meet VECT-HORUS at Bio Europe COLOGNE



  • RIB 2016 PARIS – Neurological Disorders



  • VECT-HORUS receives the Frost & Sullivan 2016 Leadership award



  • Meet VECT-HORUS at BIO-Europe Spring® 2016



  • VECT-HORUS rejoint la communauté Bpifrance Excellence



  • Two new patents protecting VECTrans® technology issued in several major countries



  • Boulder Peptide Symposium



  • Biopharm America 2015



  • 11th International Conference on Cerebral Vascular Biology



  • VECT-HORUS announces the signing of a scientific collaboration agreement with SERVIER



  • Neurotensin, vectorised by Vect-Horus, is the first drug-candidate in neuroprotective hypothermia



  • Meet VECT-HORUS at BIO-Europe Spring® 2015



  • VECT-HORUS announces the signing of a scientific collaboration agreement with SANOFI in the field of neurodegenerative diseases



  • Meet VECT-HORUS at the 36th PAMM-EORTC Winter meeting



  • VECT-HORUS announces a new equity issue of 1.5 M€ to finance the preclinical development of its first vectorized product



  • VECT-HORUS is one of the CNRS 15 success stories



  • VECT-HORUS appoints Dr Jamal Temsamani as Director of Drug Development & Corporate



  • Vect-Horus, AAA form scientific collaboration to open new avenues in treatment of brain diseases



  • VECT-HORUS successfully completes the VECtoBrain project



  • VECT-HORUS is a partner laureate of the ANR RPIB Call 2013 for proposals



  • Two research groups specialized in CNS drug delivery and in the development of therapeutic strategies for glioblastoma give in vivo POC on one of the peptide vectors described by VECT-HORUS



  • Fifth round of funding



  • VECT-HORUS and its academic partners describe the chemical optimisation of one of its lead peptides (Malcor et al., 2012, J Med Chem)



  • VECT-HORUS is a partner laureate of the ANR MALZ 2011 call for proposals



  • Fourth round of financing



  • VECT-HORUS is a partner laureate of the ANR MALZ 2010 call for proposals



  • VECT-HORUS is laureate in the Innovative Start-up "Créa13"




Faculté de Médecine Nord, 51 Boulevard Pierre Dramard
13344 Marseille Cedex 15, France
Tel: +33(0)4 91 69 87 81

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