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Story of a visionary

The way Amal Saidi sees it, nuclear medicine is more than a job – it’s a commitment to be fulfilled. Responsible for clinical research in radio-immunotherapy at Orano Med, Amal Saidi is an impassioned Doctor in Genetics, who works daily to fight cancer. From Bessines to Dallas, this inveterate globetrotter puts her enthusiasm to work to serve oncology research.
Laboratoire Maurice Tubiana d’Orano Med dédié à la fabrication du plomb 212, situé à Bessines sur Gartempe, France Orano Med’s Maurice Tubiana facility dedicated to 212Pb production, based at Bessines sur Gartempe, France © Eric Larrayadieu
My perspective on nuclear is in every way positive, because it saves lives!

Nuclear medicine? The obvious choice

As far back as she can remember, Amal has wanted to give herself over to cancer research. In her family and in her immediate circle, too many people had been impacted by the disease for her to sit by and watch. Having defended a thesis in Germany, then completing post-doctoral work in England, the young scientist would apply in 2013 to pharmaceutical giant Roche, to work on a confidential project in the field of oncology. After being hired, she would learn that her work was to focus on nuclear medicine – and embraced the challenge enthusiastically! The first results were highly encouraging. The destructive power wielded by tumour cells immediately convinced Amal Saidi that this was the path she needed to pursue.

From Roche to Orano Med, a hop, skip and a jump…

For three years, Amal worked for Roche in Razès (Haute-Vienne) at the ARCoLab site, a laboratory dedicated to nuclear medicine and shared with partner Orano Med. Starting out as a research coordinator, she went on to become team leader.
From her very first day on the job, she was in daily interaction with Orano employees. “It was truly a sharing experience: we were all in the same boat”, she recalls. In 2016, as Amal contemplated leaving the Limousin region, Orano Med offered her a position as researcher. She was awarded a 100% teleworking contract, which enabled her to spend more time with her family, in Thonon-les-Bains.
In the new position, she became responsible for pre-clinical animal experimentation activities at the Orano Med animal facility newly opened in Texas. Her integration process came about most naturally, as she already knew all the teams, and especially the one in Bessines-sur-Gartempes, home to the Production and R&D Centre, just a few kilometres from the ARCoLab. It was then that Amal stepped into the world of radiochemistry.
The processes used to produce purified lead 212 for medical applications is much more fascinating than I ever imagined.

… and international business travel…

Amal’s responsibilities all centred around one core aim: to demonstrate the effectiveness of targeted alphatherapy, a technique that destroys cancer cells all the while limiting the impact on the surrounding healthy cells. And this required... a tremendous amount of travel. Each month, the researcher would set out for Texas, spending ten days at the Plano site in the suburbs near Dallas, and worked regularly alongside her partners, in France as well as in Norway. Working as a team, even internationally, is of fundamental importance. As a matter of fact, it is probably in the area of collaboration that Amal probably made the most progress. And guess what she does when she has a few days free? She takes off for Mexico, or perhaps the Czech Republic, to experience even more of the world.
36
years
12
research projects completed for Orano
5
years’ experience in nuclear medicine
5
countries travelled
4
languages spoken

… that garnered promising initial results

Out of all her preclinical projects, one is particularly dear to her heart and occupies a large part of her time. It deals with treatment for pancreatic neuroendocrine tumours. Initiated in May 2016, this project has gained pace and entered the clinical phase far ahead of schedule. Whereas several years are usually required before any clinical applications can be attempted, it enabled a few patients to receive treatment from as early as February 2018, after nine months of toxicity studies. The timeline was unprecedented and the scientific potential peerless. While it is still too early to for any comprehensive scientific conclusions, Amal Saidi is delighted with these first results, which are already extremely promising.
  • AlphaMedix TM, a project that entered Phase 1 in 2018
  • In collaboration with the American company, RadioMedix, Inc.
  • Targeted therapy based on RIT (radio-immunotherapy) and PRRT (peptide receptor radionuclide therapy)

What’s next?

While Amal has always been passionate about scientific research, nuclear medicine applied to oncology has become a calling. “I love what I do. My work is extremely stimulating because it knows no routine. And our cause truly is too important”, she explains.
When I first started out in nuclear medicine in 2013, the believers were few and far between!
As to her next step, in her dreams, she sees it still at Orano, in a project management position. Precisely, she would like to manage scientific project streams from A to Z, from the pre-clinical stage to patient follow-up.
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