Medicago and Mitsubishi Chemical Holdings Corporation (MCHC) are collaborating to develop a next-generation technology for plant production. The objectives are to evaluate MCHC's Plant Factory System, a closed cultivation system, to produce Nicotiana benthamiana plants for protein production using Medicago's technologies.
"This system would be designed to enhance our capacity and further decrease operating costs, whilst facilitating new applications of Medicago's technology," said Andy Sheldon, president and CEO of Medicago. "We are pleased to build upon our existing strategic relationship with Mitsubishi and look forward to continuing to strengthen the synergies between our two companies."
MCHC has developed a plant factory system, a closed hydroponic system to grow plants, which is currently used for industrial-scale vegetable production in Japan and other countries. The company says that it is meant to achieve efficient, clean, safe, and environmentally friendly plant production using solar panels and LED lighting that is not dependent on weather conditions. These features can provide tightly controlled conditions and reproducibility, which, according to MCHC, are key elements to ensure reliable biopharmaceutical production in different geographies and climates.
Medicago and MCHC will work together exclusively for one year to evaluate the potential of combining MCHC's Plant Factory System with Medicago's plant protein production technologies.
Medicago, a biopharmaceutical company focused on developing vaccines based on manufacturing technologies and virus-like particles (VLPs), has worked with Mitsubishi before: in March, Mitsubishi Tanabe Pharma paid them C$3 million (around $2.97 million) up-front in a vaccine research agreement, with the aim of developing and commercializing at least three new vaccines, and with Mitsubishi Tanabe Pharma providing funding for all R&D work.