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 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 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 Corporation’s mission is to provide low-cost biologic drugs to help people fight cancer and other critical conditions. The company is currently raising Series A capital to advance into the regulatory approval process for its first antibody product, a biosimilar version of the breast cancer drug Herceptin® (trastuzumab).
Biosimilar versions of two additional antibody drugs for cancer are in development, as is an innovator drug to fight HIV/AIDS infection (with funding from the Government of Canada and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation). Projected revenue is more than $50 million by 2016.
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