Making life-saving antibody medicine more affordable
PlantForm Corporation was formed in 2008 to commercialize a plant-based manufacturing platform for low-cost monoclonal antibodies, protein drugs and vaccines that target cancer and other critical illnesses.
The company’s technology platform, using fast-growing tobacco plants, provides several advantages over the mammalian and other fermentation systems used to produce most biologic drugs on the market today: it’s fast, efficient, highly versatile (for new product development) and readily scalable. Best of all, it’s capable of reducing manufacturing costs for these life-saving drugs by up to 90 per cent.
PlantForm licenses its technology from the University of Guelph, where it was developed by Dr. J. Christopher Hall, the Canada Research Chair in Recombinant Antibody Technology. Dr. Hall is a PlantForm founder and the company’s Chief Scientific Officer. All relevant intellectual property is protected by patent filings.
The company’s first product will be a plant-produced (biosimilar) version of the breast cancer drug Herceptin®, the brand name for trastuzumab.
Proof-of-principle lab studies, published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, show PlantForm’s biosimilar trastuzumab has equivalent purity and activity compared to Herceptin®. Animal efficacy studies show that PlantForm's drug is as effective as the commercial antibody in reducing the size and growth rate of breast cancer tumours. Learn more.
Herceptin® has global sales of $6 billion annually, and its patents begin to expire in 2014. PlantForm aims to launch biosimilar trastuzumab, in partnership with a pharmaceutical company, in world markets, beginning in Europe in 2017. PlantForm management estimates the total market potential for all biosimilar trastuzumab products is $2 billion a year by 2016 and $4 billion to $5 billion a year by 2019.
PlantForm will also produce biosimilar versions of other antibody drugs that, together with Herceptin®, are forecast to have combined annual global sales of $40 billion by 2013.
Monoclonal antibodies (mAbs) comprised 31.9% or $43 billion of the global biologics market in 2009. The mAb segment is expected to increase at the fastest rate within the total biologics market to reach $86 billion in sales by 2015.
PlantForm is developing antibodies for the treatment of human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), with funding support from the Canadian HIV Vaccine Initiative (CHVI), a collaborative effort between the Government of Canada and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. Learn more.
PlantForm is also developing an enzyme to protect against nerve agent exposure under contract with the U.S. Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency. Learn more.
PlantForm’s projected revenue is more than $120 million by 2017. The company has offices in Guelph (headquarters), Toronto and Sarnia.