Molecular Pharming - recent progress in manufacturing medicines in plants

Stevenage , Hertfordshire
Friday, 21 September 2012

The venue for this event will be 
The Stevenage Bioscience Catalyst, within the GSK complex,  Stevenage, UK
The Stevenage Bioscience Catalyst campus is a unique bioscience community created to provide small biotech and life sciences companies and start-ups with access to the expertise, networks and scientific facilities traditionally associated with multinational pharmaceutical companies.

Molecular Pharming - recent progress in manufacturing medicines in plants
Friday, 21 September 2012 09:00 - 17:00

The Stevenage Bioscience Catalyst
Gunnels Wood Road
United Kingdom

Map and Directions

Molecular Pharming is on the brink of taking off! After two decades of development and academic proofs of principle, a number of recent advances have moved the technology rapidly towards commercialisation. The first products are now being licensed in the USA. The first-in-human clinical trial of a plant derived monoclonal antibody has been performed in Europe. And there has been significant investment into manufacturing facilities around the world.

This meeting will review the progress of the field, highlight major technological advances and scan the horizon for future developments.   

Who should attend?

  • Anyone interested in Recombinant protein manufacture
  • Anyone interested in Monoclonal antibody engineering and manufacture
  • Plant Biotechnologists and other Biotechnologists
  • Vaccinologists

This event  has CPD accreditation

9:00 – 9:45            Registration


9:45 – 10:00         Introduction by the ChairProfessor Julian Ma, St Georges Hospital-University London


10:00 – 10:30       Plant derived Monoclonal antibodies- from concept to regulatory approval and clinical trial

Professor Julian Ma, St Georges Hospital-University, London
Most biopharmaceuticals are currently made at great expense in fermentation vats containing bacteria or mammalian cells. But the mass production of medicines in genetically modified plants, first proposed in 1989 could reduce costs and therefore make an important contribution to global health, particularly in developing countries.

A major bottleneck for the technology has been widespread scepticism that recombinant proteins could be manufactured in plants to the same standard and quality as current conventional systems. Developing a robust and reproducible manufacturing process for plants has therefore been an important priority for the field, an achievement that was reached earlier this year in Europe.

This talk will describe the rationale for developing GM plants for pharmaceutical production, the development of a manufacturing process that was approved by medicines regulators, leading to a first-in-human clinical trial and discuss the future for Molecular Pharming. 

10:30 – 11:00      Hydroponic cultivation and rhizo secretion - a new platform for recombinant protein manufacture in plants

Dr Tim Szeto, St. George's, University of London

11:00 – 11:30      Speakers’ photo then mid-morning break


11:30 – 12:00      Production of dengue and hpv vaccine candidates by an inducible expression system in tobacco   chloroplasts

Andreas Lössl, University of Natural Resources and Applied Life Sciences, Austria


12:00  – 12:30      Production of Apolipoprotein AI in safflower seeds: expression, purification and use as a cardiovascular therapeutic

Professor Maurice Moloney, Rothamsted Research Ltd, United Kingdom


12:30  – 13:30      Lunch/networking 

                                This is also a good time to fill out your feedback forms and any questionnaires


13:30 – 14:30       Question and Answer Session

Delegates will be asked to submit questions to a panel of experts.  Questions can be submitted before the event or on the day


14:30  – 14:45      High value protein and sustainable bio-ethanol from potatoes, and integrated approach

Professor Jurgen Denecke,  Leeds University, UK

To diffuse popular concerns regarding food security and alleged competition between food and energy crops, successful bio-fuel production must be based on maximal yields per time and surface of land occupied. The generation of multiple products with added value from a single plant may not only lead to interesting business opportunities but may help to turn the tide in public perceptions of genetic engineering technology. This presentation will introduce an integrated approach to use transgenic and non-transgenic potatoes as sustainable manufacturing platform for high value proteins, industrial enzymes, bio-ethanol and high quality cell wall pulp for paper production.


14:45  - 15:15       Afternoon Tea/Coffee


15:15– 15:45                        Immunoglobulin A production in edible plant organs: bridging the gap between Molecular Farming and Plant

Synthetic Biology

Professor Diego Orzaez, Instituto de Biologia Molecular y Celular de Plantas-CSIC, Valencia, Spain 

Molecular Farming employs increasingly complex genetic engineering approaches involving the interplay of multiple transgenes and therefore entering the field of Synthetic Biology. As an example, we combined in a single tomato plant four transgenes encoding the transcription factors Rosea1 and Delila from Antirrihnum majus and the heavy and light chains of a human immunoglobulin A against rotavirus. This combination resulted in transgenic purple tomatoes producing high levels of a neutralizing human antibody against the diarrhea agent rotavirus. In the future, increasingly complex engineering designs will be enabled by standardized DNA assembly tools and by large collections of standard genetic parts.                             


15:45 - 16:15        Producing virus-like particles through transient expression in plants

Professor George Lomonossoff , John Innes Centre, UK
Virus-like particles (VLPs) have attracted much attention in recent years for applications in bio- and nanotechnology. They have been developed as novel vaccines since multivalent and especially particulate structures, such as VLPs, make highly efficient immunogens. They have also been explored as nanoparticles, both to display functionalities on their outer surface and to encapsulate heterologous material. Transient expression in plants has proved to be an efficient method to produce VLPs derived from both plant and animal viruses. Several plant-produced VLPs have been shown to be capable of stimulating an immune response in animals and have found applications in nanotechnology. 



16:15 – 16:30                       Chairman’s summing up



Keywords:  John Innes Centre, Manufacturing, Molecular Pharming, Monoclonal antibodies, Plant Biotechnology, Recombinant proteins, Rothamsted Research, St Georges hospital, Vaccines, Immunoglobulin A, DNA assembly, standard, fruit, rotavirus. virus-like particles,transient expression, bionanotechnology, Sustainable energy, affordable medicine, efficient bio-refining, industrial enzymes, process engineering.

About the Chair

Julian Ma graduated in dentistry at Guy's Hospital in 1983, and went on there to gain his PhD in Immunology, studying topical anti-microbial immunotherapy using monoclonal antibodies. He was a post-doctoral fellow at The Scripps Research Institute, La Jolla, in Dr. Andrew Hiatt's laboratory which pioneered the expression of recombinant antibodies in transgenic plants. On his return to the UK, his research group developed the first description of a monoclonal secretory antibody expressed in plants and its clinical applications in human immunotherapy against dental caries. They continue to study basic mechanisms of protein assembly, processing and expression in plant cells, as well as the design, engineering and clinical applications of novel recombinant proteins in plants for systemic and mucosal vaccination and immunotherapy. 

About the Speakers

Diego Orzáez did his PhD on Programmed Cell Death (PCD) in Plants at the IBMCP-CSIC, Valencia, Spain. As a Marie-Curie post-doc he joined E. Woltering´s lab in Wageningen, the Netherlands, to study PCD in plant cell cultures. Later he moved to Wageningen University and joined the A. Schot´s LMA lab, where he started the design of plants as antibody biofactories. In 2004 he returned to Valencia with a Ramón y Cajal contract and became tenured scientist in 2008. Currently, he is in charge of the Genetic Engineering and Synthetic Biology research projects of the Fruit Genomics and Biotechnology Lab at IBMCP-CSIC.


George Lomonossoff graduated from the University of Cambridge in 1976 and studied for his  His Ph.D. at MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology (LMB), Cambridge. He moved to the John Innes Centre Norwich in 1980 and has continued to work there since apart from two of sabbatical leave in the USA. George's research has focused on the molecular biology of RNA plant viruses and their use in bio- and nanotechnology . He is an honorary professor and UEA and has co-ordinated several EU Framework consortia. In 2012 he was named “BBSRC Innovator of the year” for his work on plant-made pharmaceuticals.


Jurgen Denecke has studied chemical engineering in Belgium, specialising in process technology and biotechnology. After completing his PhD in Plant Genetic Systems NV (Ghent) he focussed fully on cell biology and currently runs a research team studying protein secretion and vacuolar protein sorting in plants at the University of Leeds. More recently his team has combined the knowledge gained in cell compartmentalisation to engineer specific crops for bio-fuel production using an integrated approach to use crops with high harvest index and reproducible biochemical compositions to generate multiple products besides bio-fuels.





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