PlantForm Corporation
PlantForm Corporation awarded Government of Canada contract for plant-based production of anti-ricin antibody

Initial tests show plant-produced antibody as efficacious as mammalian-cell version

February 8, 2016

GUELPH, Ont.— PlantForm Corporation has received a Government of Canada contract for the plant-based production of an antibody being studied by Defence Research and Development Canada (DRDC) as an antidote to ricin exposure.

The contract, valued at $135,000, is for delivery of 2 grams of an anti-ricin antibody, known as hD9, produced using PlantForm’s vivoXPRESS® biopharmaceutical platform.

Ricin is highly toxic and considered a bioterrorism risk for the public as no therapeutic antibody or vaccine is currently available to counteract its deadly effects. The hD9 antibody drug candidate developed by DRDC prevents ricin from penetrating cells.

The current contract to PlantForm follows work conducted last year in the lab of University of Guelph Professor Emeritus J. Christopher Hall to evaluate the potential for PlantForm’s tobacco-plant-based drug expression system to produce the hD9 antibody. Hall, a PlantForm co-founder and Chief Scientific Officer, is the originator of the vivoXPRESS® platform.

DRDC conducted in vitro and in vivo studies that found the plant-made version of the antibody showed therapeutic efficacy against ricin intoxication that was comparable to hD9 produced using mammalian cell technology. The findings were presented at the Antibody Engineering and Therapeutics Conference in December 2015.

“We’re very encouraged by the initial study results for the plant-produced anti-ricin antibody, and we look forward to the next phase of evaluation,” said Dr. Don Stewart, PlantForm President and CEO. “We believe that plants hold the key to cost-effective, large-scale production of antidotes for ricin and other potential bioterrorism threats.”

PlantForm has also received funding from the Government of Canada for development of a plant-made version of butyrylcholinesterase (BuChE), an enzyme that counteracts the effects of nerve agents like sarin. Learn more.

About PlantForm Corporation (
PlantForm is a Canadian biotech company with a low-cost proprietary manufacturing platform for a wide range of plant-made pharmaceuticals, including monoclonal antibodies, therapeutic proteins and vaccines for the treatment of cancer, HIV/AIDS, Ebola and other life-threatening illnesses. The company’s vivoXPRESS® technology uses genetically modified tobacco plants to ‘grow’ biopharmaceuticals at a significantly lower cost of goods compared to industry standard fermentation systems. Learn more.

About Defence Research and Development Canada (
Defence Research and Development Canada (DRDC) is the national leader in defence and security S&T. As an agency of Canada’s Department of National Defence (DND), DRDC provides DND, the Canadian Armed Forces and other government departments as well as the public safety and security communities with the knowledge and technology advantage needed to defend and protect Canada’s interests at home and abroad.

Ashley Meyers, PlantForm's Director Special Projects, with tobacco plants that
will be used to produce an antibody that counteracts the effects of ricin exposure.

For more information, please contact:
Don Stewart
President and CEO
(416) 452-7242
Stacey Curry Gunn
Director of Communications
(519) 827-1131

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PlantForm is a Canadian company focused on providing
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For more information, contact:
Don Stewart
President & CEO