PlantForm partnerships responding to COVID-19 testing and treatment needs
GUELPH, Ontario, Canada, April 7, 2020—PlantForm Corporation is working with Canadian and international partners on two initiatives that will use the company’s plant-based biopharmaceutical platform to address the global COVID-19 crisis, including the development of Canada’s first antibody test for COVID-19 immunity, and the production of antibodies to treat patients and protect first responders.
The company has applied to the National Research Council Canada (NRC) for funding to develop diagnostic reagents for serology (blood) tests to determine if people have developed antibodies that indicate immunity to the virus. PlantForm has also submitted an NRC funding application for another collaboration to produce therapeutic and prophylactic antibodies in the company’s vivoXPRESS® manufacturing platform, which uses a proprietary strain of the tobacco plant to produce target molecules.
PlantForm’s vivoXPRESS® manufacturing system provides a trio of crucial benefits for such applications: rapid development and manufacturing timelines (weeks instead of months), unlimited scalability, and ultra-low-cost production.
Developing a blood test for COVID-19 immunity
PlantForm has joined forces with Cape Bio Pharms in South Africa and Canadian partners Inno-3B and Microbix Biosystems Inc. to develop serology tests to detect antibodies specific to COVID-19.
Unlike most COVID-19 diagnostic tests, which test for genetic material to see if someone has been exposed to the coronavirus that causes COVID-19, the PlantForm collaboration is focused on producing reagents for serology tests that will identify antibodies in the blood that indicate immunity to the virus.
“Canada does not currently have a blood test to detect COVID-19 immunity,” said PlantForm CEO Dr. Don Stewart. “We are developing a test that will identify the convalescent immune population, which is critical to disease monitoring and control. It will increase the reliability of data about the progression of COVID-19 and allow public health agencies to accurately determine when people have become immune to the disease and are therefore able to return to work and other social care duties.”
Cape Bio Pharms will provide the genetic constructs in their proprietary vector to enable immediate production of SARS-COV-2 antigen. Inno-3B will provide expertise to rapidly scale up plant-growth capacity using the latest state-of-the art technology. Microbix Biosystems will provide analytical assessment of the reagents, leading to their potential use in proprietary kit systems.
Developing antibodies to treat patients and protect health-care personnel
PlantForm is also collaborating with Inno-3B and other national and international partners to produce therapeutic antibodies for infected patients and in prophylactic applications for first responders and other health care personnel who require immediate protection.
About PlantForm Corporation (www.plantformcorp.com)
PlantForm Corporation is a biopharmaceutical company focused on the rapid development and production of biosimilar and specialty antibodies and proteins using the company’s proprietary vivoXPRESS® platform. The plant-based vivoXPRESS® system makes it easier, faster and less expensive to produce biologics for approved and novel indications. PlantForm has an expanding portfolio of patents in seven families to protect both the core platform technology and products in development.
About Cape Bio Pharms (www.capebiopharms.com)
Cape Bio Pharms is a spin-off company of the University of Cape Town, Africa’s leading University. The company uses its disruptive plant-based expression platform to produce a range of recombinant proteins for life scientists in bio medical research. Cape Bio Pharms’ response to COVID-19 has been to develop a package of SARS-COV-2 Spike Proteins, critical for rapid diagnostic test kits, and to collaborate with other plant-based platforms to increase production capacity world-wide.
About Inno-3B (www.inno-3b.com)
Inno-3B is a Quebec-based vertical farming equipment design company that has over the last year been developing a turnkey solution for plant-based pharmaceutical companies. The solution involves our closed environment production tower that has been specifically tailored to growing N. benthamania, with automation for materials handling, traceability of crop units and uniformity of environmental conditions for light and temperature, which will allow for consistency in plant growth.
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