PlantForm, McMaster collaboration awarded NSERC Engage Grant

GUELPH, Ont., Feb. 27, 2018A research partnership involving PlantForm Corporation and a McMaster University scientist has been awarded an Engage Grant from the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC).
The funding will advance research by Dr. Raja Ghosh focused on removing impurities from tobacco plant extract containing therapeutic proteins expressed by plants grown using PlantForm’s vivoXPRESS® manufacturing platform. Ghosh, a professor in McMaster’s Department of Chemical Engineering, is a leading expert in bioseparation technology, especially membrane chromatography and other techniques used to separate and purify biological products such as monoclonal antibodies.
PlantForm continues to advance its high-yield, low-cost tobacco-plant-based vivoXPRESS® platform for development of biologic medicines and vaccines to treat cancer, inflammatory diseases and other life-threatening or debilitating conditions.
“Product purification is one of the main challenges in biopharming and we look forward to working with Dr. Ghosh to develop procedures that will improve the overall efficiency of our processes and contribute towards increased product purity and recovery, and even lower manufacturing costs,” said Dr. Don Stewart, PlantForm’s President and CEO.
Tobacco extract from biopharming typically contains a variety of natural but unwanted proteins, pigments, sugars and other impurities that can impact the yield and quality of the biotherapeutic being produced. RUBISCO, an enzyme involved in converting carbon dioxide into energy-rich glucose, is the most abundant protein in plant tissue and its presence, along with sunlight-absorbing pigments, can interfere with the purification process.
The $25,000 Engage Grant will support development of an efficient pre-treatment process for removing RUBISCO and pigment from crude tobacco extract using two novel laterally-fed membrane chromatography devices designed by the Ghosh lab.
“Each of these membrane devices will be systematically tested for their impurity-removing properties,” said Dr. Ghosh. “The actual pre-treatment processes employing these membranes will be systematically optimized for operating parameters such as pH, ionic strength, superficial velocity and device size. When successful, these pre-treatment steps will be integrated with the purification processes used by PlantForm.”

About PlantForm Corporation (
PlantForm Corporation is a biopharmaceutical company focused on the rapid development and production of specialty antibody and protein drugs using the company’s proprietary vivoXPRESS® platform. The plant-based vivoXPRESS® system makes it easier, faster and less expensive to produce approved biologic drugs for novel indications and new markets. The company’s pipeline includes trastuzumab for a novel indication in nerve regeneration, a biosimilar version of Lucentis® and other niche indication drugs. Learn more.                                                     

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