iBio has agreed in principle to license its iBioLaunch platform, which uses Nicotiana to produce therapeutics, to G-Con for the development and manufacture of plant-expressed influenza vaccines.
Plant-based production has been proposed as a rapid response, low cost alternative with the ability to massively scale up. G-Con’s GreenVax Project intends to show proof-of-concept for a large-scale vaccine production facility using Nicotiana plants grown in a controlled environment.
The project will initially look at producing H1N1 vaccines. iBio believes its platform is particularly suited to producing vaccines in response to pandemics because of the speed advantages it offers over egg-based manufacture.
Non-genetically-modified plants used in iBioLaunch have short growing cycles and this, coupled to the transient nature of the gene expression technology, helps cut the time from isolating the strain to production.
When manufacture begins it can be quickly scaled-up by simply growing more plants in the contained growth facilities. G-Con will perform this process on a secure, 21-acre site at the Texas A&M Health Science Center in Bryan, Texas, US.
A 145,000 sq ft bio-production facility capable of producing 100m doses a month is being constructed at the site. The facility has been designed to complete the GreenVax Project but can be expanded without interrupting core operations.
H1N1 is the target of the GreenVax Project but iBioLaunch can be applied to seasonal influenza, other infectious diseases or cancer. Robert Kay, CEO of iBio, expects “influenza, including seasonal influenza, to be among the earliest applications of the iBioLaunch technology”.
He added: “In the new GreenVax facility, G-Con’s modular production technology should significantly enhance the economy, speed and flexibility advantages of our system for application to a broad range of biologic products.”