Guelph, ON—PlantForm Corporation says it will receive technical and business advisory services, and a financial contribution of up to $500,000 from the National Research Council of Canada Industrial Research Assistance Program (NRC-IRAP) to advance its work on innovative antibody treatments for human immunodeficiency virus (HIV).
PlantForm is using its tobacco-plant-based vivoXPRESS™ manufacturing system to produce antibodies that fight HIV infection by disrupting the virus’s method of entry into human CD4+ lymphocytes (T-cells). The funding will enable the further development, production and testing of antibodies for a potent anti-HIV therapeutic cocktail to treat strains of the disease circulating in Sub-Saharan Africa and other parts of the developing world. The company says that the antibodies will be tested in a novel mouse model that PlantForm is developing in collaboration with Toronto-based Miami Mice Research Corp.
“Our goal is to meet the need for low-cost, effective and safer drugs to eliminate or manage the effects of HIV infection,” said Dr. Don Stewart, PlantForm’s president and CEO. “Thirty-five million people are living with this disease worldwide, many of them in Sub-Saharan Africa. We want to see local manufacturing of these novel treatments where they are needed most.”
PlantForm has previously produced, at small scale, eight antibodies for HIV treatment, which have been shown to be as effective as mammalian-derived antibodies against 15 strains of HIV in in vitro testing conducted at Duke University in partnership with The Collaboration for AIDS Vaccine Discovery. PlantForm is also developing treatments for Ebola, breast cancer, and ricin/sarin exposure.
PlantForm has received previous financial support from NRC-IRAP of up to $867,570 under this program.
Funding for the project is provided through NRC-IRAP’s Canadian HIV Technology Development (CHTD) Program, which is part of the Canadian HIV Vaccine Initiative (CHVI), a collaboration between the Government of Canada and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.