Scientific Direction

Doctor Marcel Mersel


  • Ph D (1978; medical Biochemistry), M Sc(1975 ; Medical Biochemistry), B Sc (Chemistry and Biochemistry).
  • Hadassah Medical School and The Hebrew University (Jerusalem, Israel)


  • Prizes awarded by « The Hadassah Medical School » (1976 and 1979)

Professional Experience:

  • Post-Doc (1979; under Prof M. Mandel, CNRS Neurochemistry Center, Strasbourg)
  • Assistant professor (1981; School of Medicine and U 44 of INSERM, Neurochemistry Center, Strasbourg)
  • In charge of research at INSERM (1987; Prof G. Vincendon, UPR 416, CNRS, Neurochemistry Center, Strasbourg )
  • Director of Research at INSERM (1993; Prof G. Vincendon, UPR 416 of CNRS ; In Charge of the Research Group on « Oxysterols and Glioblastomes » ; Neurochemistry Center, Strasbourg)
  • Director of Research at INSERM (Prof C. Hamel, Institute of Neurosciences at Montpellier, U 583 of INSERM ; In charge of the Group « Motor neurons »)
  • Beta Innov’s Scientific Director (2009 ; Biotherapy Research Institute, Saint Eloi Hospital, Montpellier)

Expertise :

Biochemistry and Cell Biology: (Cancer Treatment and neurodegenerative diseases)

Scientific Papers :

  • 58 publications in scientific journals and peer reviews.
  • 8 book articles and 60 abstracts and oral papers (Congresses, Symposia)
  • 5 patents (issued or filed)


  • Société française des Neurosciences (1995-2009)

The first work of Marcel Mersel dealt with the lipid biochemistry of cells and membranes (1). For this study, Marcel Mersel developed an experimental approach which makes it possible in vitro to simultaneously stain the proteins and lipids of the outer sheet of plasma membrane which are the most exposed to the extra-cellular environment (2, 3). This method resulted in the validation of other methods for targeting phospholipids of the outer membrane sheet (4, 5) and in the filing of a patent describing the radioactive staining of the hydrophobic component of gangliosides (6, 7). Marcel Mersel also developed an original method of purifying the plasma membranes of cells cultured in vitro (8-10). All those methods brought to light the fact that the enzymatic activity involved in the biosynthesis of specific phospholipides was modulated by blocking cell division through contact inhibition (11, 12).

Thanks to his expertise in the culture of rat cardiac cells, Professor Mersel demonstrated that 7ß-hydroxycholesterol (7b-OHCH), a molecule with anti-cancer potential, was not cytotoxic for that type of cell (13). Subsequently, the author demonstrated that the cytotoxicity of this molecule on fibroblast cultures of cardiac origin was correlated with a metabolite of the 7b-OHCH metabolite (14). On the basis of preliminary observations, he demonstrated in many publications and in a CNRS patent that metabolites have a very beneficial influence on the glioblastoma, a form of brain cancer which to date is still incurable (15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20).

As for sterols, Marcel Mersel conducted research into another type of orphan disease: SBMA (Spinal Bulbar Myoatrophy), a genetic illness affecting the motoneurones at androgen receptors sites. By using innovative experimental approaches and developing a motoneuronal model that mimics SBMA, Marcel Mersel is in the process of shedding new light on this pathology (21, 22).

Marcel Mersel also contributed to other fields of research: the analysis of lipids in the chromatine, the cochlear NMDA receptors, the purification of nuclear IP 4 receptors and the study of spinal lesions (23-26 are cited as examples in the bibliography).

1. Mersel M, Heller M, Pinson A.
Biochim. Biophys. Acta. 1979, 96 : 403-406

2. Mersel M, Benenson A, Pinson A, Heller M.
FEBS Lett. 1980, 110 : 69-72

3. Benenson A, Mersel M, Heller M, Pinson A
Methods in studying cardiac membranes, Volume II,
1984, pp59-80 (Dhalla NS Editor, CRC Press Inc. Boca
Raton, Florida, USA)

4. Dominski K, Binaglia L, Dreyfus H, Massarelli R, Mersel M,
Freysz L.
Biochim. Biophys. Acta. 1983, 734 : 257-266

5. Pelletier X, Mersel M, Freysz L, Leray C.
Biophys. Biochim. Acta. 1987, 902 : 223-228

6. Mersel M, Vincendon G
Brevet CNRS WO/1988/OOO175

7. Lelong I, Frechard E, Cremel G, Langley K, Rebel G,
Vincendon G, Mersel M
Dev Neurosc. 1991, 13 : 54-60

8. Mersel M, Malviya AN, Hindelang C, Mandel P
Biochim. Biophys. Acta. 1984, 778 : 144-154

9. Mersel M, Lelong I, Hindelang C, Sarlieve L, Vincendon G
Anal. Biochem. 1987, 166 : 246-252

10. Vitkovic L, Steisslinger HW, Aloyo VJ, Mersel M
Proc Natl Acad Sci USA. 1988, 85 : 8296-8300

11. El Achkar P, Mandel P, Mersel M
FEBS Lett. 1988, 239 : 276-280

12. El Achkar P, Langley OK, Mersel M
Biochem Biophys Res Commun. 1989, 159 : 1055-1064

13. Mersel M, Luu B, Ourisson G
CR Acad SCI III. 1984, 299 : 221-225

14. Mersel M, Hietter H, Luu B
The heart cell in culture, Volume III, 1987,
pp 125-131 (Pinson A Editor, CRC Press Inc. Boca
Raton, Florida, USA)

15. Kupferberg A, Teller G, Behr P, Leray C, Urban PF,
Vincendon G, Mersel M
Biochim Biophys Acta. 1989, 1013 :231-238

16. Behr P, Kupferberberg A, Mersel M, Privat A
Brevet CNRS WO/1992/001803

17. Kupferberg A, Behr P, Mersel M
Biochim Biophys Acta. 1990, 1046 : 106-109

18. Behr P, Kupferberg A, Leray C, Urban PF, Mersel M
Febs Lett. 1991, 280 : 202-206

19. Werthle M, Bochelen D, Adamczyk M, Kupferberg A,
Poulet P, Chambron J, Lutz P, Privat A, Mersel M
Cancer Res. 1994, 54 : 998-1003

20. Rakotoarivelo C, Adamczyk M, Desgeorges M,
Langley K, Lorentz JG, Mann A, Ricard D, Scherrer E,
Privat A, Mersel M
Anticancer Res. 2006, 26 ; 2053-2062

21. Rakotoarivelo C, Petite D, Lambard S, Fabre C,
Rouleau C, Lumbroso S, De Weille J, Privat A,
Carreau S, Mersel M
Neuroendocrinology, 2004 : 80 : 284-297

22. Rakotoarivelo C, Petite D, De Weille J, Lumbroso S,
Privat A, Sultan C, Mersel M
Exp Neurol. 2007, 204 : 118-130

23. Albi E, Mersel M, Leray C, Tomassoni ML,
Viola-Magni MP
Lipids. 1994, 29 : 715-719

24. Köppler P, Mersel M, Humbert JP, Vignon J, Vincendon G
Malviya AN
Biochemistry. 1996, 35 : 5481-5487

25. Pieraut S, Laurent-Matha V, Sar C, Hubert T, Méchaly I,
Hilaire C, Mersel M , Delpire E, Valmier J, Scamps F
J Neurosc. 2007, 27 : 6751-6759

26. Ruel J, Chabbert C, Nouvian R, Bendris R, Eybalin M,
Leger CL, Bourien J, Mersel M, Puel JL
J Neurosci. 2008, 28 : 6751-6759

  • Peer reviews in scientific journals and writing requests for subsidies.
  • Teaching and developing experimental methods for the pharmaceutical industry (Novartis, Sanofi-Aventis, Serono…)
  • PhD dissertation advisor (Life Sciences)
  • Head of industrial training courses
    (Engineers at Ecole Nationale Supérieure de Chimie at Montpellier)
  • Classroom Lectures: The dynamics of Biomembranes
    (Ecole Nationale Supérieure de Chimie at Montpellier)