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GEN News Highlights : Jan 16, 2012

Medicago Taps Cellectis to Boost Therapeutic Protein Production in Tobacco Plants

Partnership will exploit nuclease technology to develop biosimilars.

Medicago and genome-engineering firm Cellectis plant sciences are collaborating on a project focused on using the latter’s nuclease technology to improve the expression of therapeutic proteins in tobacco leaves.

Cellectis claims its nucleases enable the modification of protein glycosylation patterns in plants with extreme control and uniformity.

The technology can be applied to optimize protein characteristics including solubility, therapeutic half-life, tissue distribution, and protein interactions. The firm established its plant sciences subsidiary in 2010 to apply its technology specifically for plant engineering. The partnership with Medicago will harness nucleases to generate an array of specific glycoprotein variants, from which the best candidate will be selected for production using Medicago’s plant-based manufacturing technology.

“We look forward to working with Cellectis plant sciences to assess their nuclease technology for use in our ongoing work to develop biosimilar products,” says Louis-Philippe Vezina, CSO of Medicago. ”This tool has the potential to hasten the expansion of our platform towards theproduction of a wider range of therapeutic proteins including biosimilars and complement our existing tools for the control of glycosylation.”

Vaccines firm Medicago is exploiting its Proficia™production technology as an alternative to current egg-based and cell-based vaccine production systems. The platform uses whole living plants as a flexible vaccine and antibody production system. The firm’s clinical pipeline includes vaccines against pandemic H5N1 and seasonal H1N1 influenza.