PlantForm Corporation
PlantForm, University of Guelph CESRF awarded NSERC research and development grant

Three-year project aims to optimize plant production of therapeutic antibodies, including PlantForm's trastuzumab (Herceptin®) for breast cancer

March 3, 2016

A research partnership between PlantForm Corporation and Dr. Mike Dixon, Director of the Controlled Environment Systems Research Facility (CESRF) at the University of Guelph, has been awarded a Collaborative Research and Development Grant from the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC).

The three-year project will examine how environmental growing conditions and a range of other variables affect the yield and quality of therapeutic proteins produced by tobacco plants in PlantForm’s vivoXPRESS® biopharmaceutical manufacturing system.

“Dr. Mike Dixon’s team is world-renowned for plant research in controlled environment systems, and we look forward to joining forces to further optimize our plant-based manufacturing platform, with a specific focus on our lead drug candidate, biosimilar Herceptin® (trastuzumab) for breast cancer,” said Dr. Don Stewart, PlantForm’s President and CEO. “We’ve shown, in mice studies, that our biosimilar trastuzumab is as effective as the commercial antibody in reducing the size and growth rate of breast cancer tumours; now we are working to maximize the amount of the antibody each plant produces.”

“The CESRF and PlantForm are both pushing the boundaries of plant science for the benefit of humankind,” Dixon said. “This work will apply the newest technologies in controlled environment systems to PlantForm’s biotechnology, a collaboration that builds on the synergies of our shared roots within the University of Guelph’s School of Environmental Sciences.”

The three-year project will receive contributions from NSERC totalling $300,000 as well as cash and in-kind contributions from PlantForm totalling $378,000.

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 – developed at the University of Guelph by Dr. J. Christopher Hall, a PlantForm founder and the company’s Chief Scientific Officer – uses genetically modified tobacco plants to ‘grow’ biopharmaceuticals at a significantly lower cost of goods compared to industry standard fermentation systems. Learn more.

About the Controlled Environment Systems Research Facility (CESRF) at the University of Guelph
The Controlled Environment Systems Research Facility i designed to measure plant growth, gas exchange, volatile organic compound (VOC) evolution, and nutrient remediation in a precisely controlled environment. The facility is comprised of 24 sealed environment chambers including 14 variable pressure plant growth hypobaric chambers capable of sustaining a vacuum. CERFS's personnel have extensive experience in the fields of plant physiology, environment analysis and sensor technology. Research funding is industry-driven with contributions from the Canadian Space Agency, the European Space Agency, the Ontario Centres of Excellence, the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs, the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council and a multitude of industry partners and commodity associations.

A research partnership between PlantForm and the Dixon lab at the University of Guelph will study how growing conditions affect biopharmaceutical production in plants. The team includes (left to right): senior research associate Michael Stasiak and CESRF director Mike Dixon of the University of Guelph, and PlantForm’s director research Michael McLean and upstream process development research manager Kiva Ferraro.

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For more information, please contact:
Don Stewart
President and CEO
(416) 452-7242

Mike Dixon
Director, CESRF
(519) 824-4120, Ext. 52555
Stacey Curry Gunn
Director of Communications
(519) 827-1131

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PlantForm is a Canadian company focused on providinglow-cost therapeutic antibody drugs that fight cancer and other critical illnesses.
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For more information, contact:
Don Stewart
President & CEO