PI: Paul Christou (Applied Biotechnology group)
Funding (2018-2021): 519,902 Euros.
Funding Body: EU Horizon 2020
Plant Molecular Farming is the manufacture of high-value products using plant biotechnology. Pharma-Factory was conceived and designed by SMEs active in the field to produce medical, veterinary and diagnostic products. Product-driven work packages and a collective approach to public involvement and regulatory consultation will accelerate commercialization of new bio-products, and increase the competitiveness of European bio-industry by resolving technical, social and economic bottlenecks in this field. All parts of the work programme are addressed by refining technologies using new synthetic biology tools, demonstrating manufacturing advantages for individual products, identifying a clear regulatory path for each platform technology, developing clear business cases with supporting techno-economic evaluations and life cycle analyses and improving public engagement and acceptance. Five SMEs will develop products that include arylsulfatase B (for human enzyme replacement therapy), a vaccine for infectious spleen and kidney necrosis virus in fish, two highly potent HIV neutralising antibody-based fusion proteins and plant chimaeric virus-like-particles for a diagnostic kit. In collaboration with academic partners they will advance six plant molecular farming platforms for this purpose, including whole plants, algae, hairy roots and plant cell culture, by designing and developing new tools to increase the competitiveness, utility and versatility of each platform. All companies will reach Technology Readiness Level 5 within the lifetime of the project, with two products to be commercialized. The project provides a unique opportunity to improve public involvement with plant biotechnology at a European-wide level. A work package has been dedicated to gain maximal impact by engaging with all stakeholders – from scientists to government and the public at large, developing new tools to facilitate communication, to help understand and reduce barriers to acceptance.
Here you could watch an explanation of the project: