PlantForm receives European patent for tobacco plant-based platform

By Brittany Farb Gruber

- Last updated on GMT

(Image: Getty/zbg2)
(Image: Getty/zbg2)
The patent will help PlantForm Corporation continue to advance its platform for manufacturing antibody and protein drugs, as the company looks to bring products to market, says CEO.

The Canadian biopharmaceutical firm was granted a European patent for vivoPRESS, its tobacco plant-based technology​ that improves the therapeutic efficacy and utility of antibody fragments.

The patent, awarded by the European Patent Office​, Methods of Improving the Therapeutic Efficacy and Utility of Antibody Fragments, under patent number 2355849, pertains to technology that improves the therapeutic efficacy and utility of antibody fragments by linking them to other antibodies. As a result, they remain active in the body for a longer period of time.

“PlantForm is continuously developing our vivoXPRESS manufacturing platform, and this patent protects a key component of the unique molecular biology behind the system,”​ PlantForm’s CEO Don Stewart told BioPharma-Reporter. “This is a very positive development for PlantForm as we seek to bring a number of products to market.”

Plant-based pharma

PlantForm’s vivoXPRESS technology platform uses fast-growing tobacco plants Nicotiana benthamiana and Nicotiana tobaccum to produce biologic drugs, including monoclonal antibodies and therapeutic proteins.

Advantages of the plant-based technology include rapid drug development and production timelines, high levels of drug expression, less risk of unwanted immune reactions, reduced risk profiles versatility for new product development, unlimited scale-up capability to respond to increased demand, and manufacturing costs that are as much as 90% lower compared to mammalian cell technology systems.

“This patent is further evidence of PlantForm innovation as we continue to advance our proprietary, plant-based vivoXPRESS technology system to develop important antibody and protein drugs for a wide range of diseases and life-threatening conditions,” ​said Doug Cossar, PlantForm’s vice president of research, in a statement.

PlantForm currently licenses the vivoXPRESS technology platform from the University of Guelph, where it was invented by J. Christopher Hall, PlantForm’s chief scientific officer.

“It’s gratifying when a patent is issued for one of the university’s inventions, particularly so when it’s associated with a U of G startup company that is creating jobs in Ontario,”​ said Steve De Brabandere, associate director of the University of Guelph’s Research Innovation Office, in a statement.

PlantForm already has a portfolio of patents in six families that protect its core platform technology in addition to its products in development.

“We’ve had positive feedback from current investors who are pleased about the progress we’re making and from our partners, as this is another development that underscores the value of the intellectual property related to the vivoXPRESS system,”​ added Stewart. 

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