High Level Plant-Based Production of Biotherapeutics


The global market for therapeutic antibodies is expected to exceed $115 billion by 2022 and continues growing rapidly. For monoclonal antibody (mAb) manufacturing process development, some key issues are maintaining cost effectiveness and desired quality attributes while reducing time to market with manufacturing flexibility. Plant-based mAb production began two decades ago with transgenic plants, however, transient viral-based vectors have brought many advantages including safety, speed, versatility and cost.

Researchers at The Biodesign Institute of Arizona State University have created a novel plant transient expression system, using optimized geminiviral vectors, which can efficiently produce heteromultimeric proteins. These proteins can be co-expressed simultaneously, reaching yields of 3-5 g/kg leaf fresh weight or ~50% total soluble protein with near equal expression of each protein. Chimeric anti-flavivirus antibodies against a highly conserved fusion loop epitope were created with this system to demonstrate proof of concept.

These expression systems are a versatile tool for the production of a wide spectrum of pharmaceutical multi-protein complexes in a fast, powerful, and cost-effective way.

Potential Applications

• Plant-based production of antibodies and other proteins

• Flavivirus therapeutics

Benefits and Advantages

• Simple production scale up, particularly compared to fermentation

• May be able to provide proteins with favorable glycosylation profiles

o Very uniform mAbs may correspond to enhanced pharmacokinetic properties and could be an important step in developing "biobetters"

• Plant-based biopharmaceutical production is low cost, scalable and does not have animal pathogen contamination

• Once the genes encoding the antibodies are introduced into a plant viral expression cassette, gram quantities of mAbs can be produced in days rather than months

• Near equal expression of each protein

For more information about this opportunity, please see

Diamos et al - Front Bioeng Biotechnol - 2019

For more information about the inventor(s) and their research, please see

Dr. Mason's departmental webpage

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