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PlantForm wins US$1.8M contract for anti-nerve agent R&D

PlantForm Corporation has been awarded a contract for US$1,777,700 from the U.S. Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) for research and development of recombinant butyrylcholinesterase (rBuChE) production in plants.

Butyrylcholinesterase is an enzyme that has been developed as a bioscavenger to provide prophylactic protection against nerve agents. The project aims to develop a low-cost alternative to plasma-derived human butyrylcholinesterase (hBuChE) that mimics the properties of plasma-derived BuChE and which will allow for large-scale production.

“Our goal is to produce a novel rBuChE enzyme in Nicotiana benthamiana plants that works as well as the plasma-derived product while greatly reducing the cost of treatment,” said Dr. Don Stewart, PlantForm President and CEO.

“It’s tremendously rewarding to apply our technology to a project that could help prevent suffering and deaths from nerve agents like sarin. It’s another example of the versatility of our biopharmaceutical manufacturing platform and the important contributions we expect it to make.”

PlantForm will partner with U.S.-based Kentucky BioProcessing and Aragen Bioscience, and with Defence Research and Development Canada on the 12-month project.

Chief Operating Officer appointed
PlantForm is pleased to announce the appointment of David Cayea as Chief Operating Officer.

“As Chief Operating Officer, Mr. Cayea will continue to advance our financing and partnering initiatives as well as taking on new responsibilities related to the internal management of the company,” said Don Stewart, PlantForm President and Chief Executive Officer.

Cayea joined PlantForm in 2011 as Director of International Relations & Business Development.

See full news release here.

Scientific team adds new personnel
PlantForm’s research group is expanding to support new product development.

Scientist Dr. Haifeng Wang, who has extensive experience working for Dr. Hall at the University of Guelph, will join the PlantForm team, taking a technical leadership role in the DARPA project.

Post-Doctoral Fellow Dr. Michael Marit, who holds a PhD in molecular biology from the University of Toronto, will focus on modifying the plant glycosylation pathways for the butyrylcholinesterase project. His contract is partially funded through the U of T's Graduate Enterprise Internship program.

PlantForm has also hired two research associates, Fang Liu and Zacharie LeBlanc, for the research program, which also includes three biosimilar oncology drugs and innovator antibodies for HIV/AIDS.

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Fall 2012

Bright future for biologics
PlantForm's Dr. Mike McLean and Dr. Chris Hall discuss the evolution of biologic medicines and where the industry is heading in the Fall 2012 issue of the Advocate, a publication of the Ontario Society of Medical Technologists.

Steven Narod elected to RSC
Congratulations to PlantForm Scientific Advisory Board member Dr. Steven Narod on his election as a fellow of the Royal Society of Canada. Dr. Narod, the Canada Research Chair in Breast Cancer and senior scientist at Women’s College Research Institute, is one of the most-cited breast cancer researchers in the world.

New scientific publication
Kudos to the PlantForm/University of Guelph scientific team for their recent publication in Plant Biotechnology Journal. See the abstract for Utility of the P19 suppressor of gene-silencing protein for production of therapeutic antibodies in Nicotiana expression hosts.

Upcoming Events
Nov. 20
PlantForm will present at the Golden Triangle Angelnet meeting in Guelph. For more information or to RSVP, please email

Management Team
Don Stewart, PhD
President & CEO

David Cayea, BA
Chief Operating Officer

Ron Hosking, CA
Chief Financial Officer

J. Christopher Hall, PhD
Chief Scientific Officer

Board of Director
Mark Goldberg, PhD, C.Dir.
Chair of the Board of Directors
Founder, GlobalTox

Jim Rae
Chairman of the Board of Directors, Bioniche Life Sciences, Inc.

Warren Whitehead 
former CFO, Arius Research

J. Christopher Hall, PhD
CSO, PlantForm Corp.

Don Stewart, PhD
President & CEO, PlantForm Corp.
PlantForm is a Canadian company focused on providing
low-cost therapeutic antibody drugs that fight cancer and other critical illnesses.

Our mailing address is:
1920 Yonge St, Suite 200
Toronto, Ontario
For more information, contact:
Don Stewart
President & CEO

PlantForm Corporation · 367 Woodlawn Road West · Guelph, Ontario N1H 7K9