Emerging Plant-based Platform for Biomanufacturing

Published on: 
BioPharm International, BioPharm International, May 2022 Issue, Volume 35, Issue 5
Pages: 12

Plant-based manufacturing technology gains mainstream edge in biopharmaceutical production.

In the midst of new emerging therapy projects under development, the progress of innovative manufacturing technologies is also growing. One of the newest emerging platforms for biologics manufacturing is the plant made pharmaceutical platform (PMP). PMP has come on-stage recently with the approval of Canada-based Medicago’s COVID-19 vaccine in Canada, COVIFENZ (plant-based virus-like particles, recombinant, adjuvanted) (1).

The wave of acceptance that has arisen with other platforms, such as baculovirus and messenger RNA, adds to the dominant mammalian cell systems. Plant-made pharmaceuticals will likely be added to the mix, according to Barry Holtz, chief scientific officer, Phylloceuticals.

Current PMP platforms use traditional soil-based or hydroponic plant growth, both of which have difficult technical challenges. Soil-based systems, for example, are largely single-level systems that require large amounts of controlled space, are dependent on specialized substrates, have inefficient materials flow, and are not as efficient to automate as vertical farming approaches. Traditional hydroponic systems require multiple movements of high-volume, heavy platforms of plants to multiple environmental zones, says Holtz.

Newer highly automated aeroponic plant growth systems can lower the costof plant-made therapeutic proteins even further, with single growth rooms systems and advance robotics.

“Plant-based manufacturing has hit the mainstream,” says Holtz. “Phylloceuticals has developed the next-generation of plant-made manufacturing [that employs] machine learning and artificial intelligence to optimize product production—an entirely different bioenergetics to product production scenario than what has traditionally been a focus on maximizing plant biomass production.”

In addition, Holtz notes that prior limitations to one product using traditional biomanufacturing are overcome in platforms such as PMP by the ability of the technology to simultaneously produce multiple products in one plant “bioreactor”.



1. Medicago, “Medicago and GSK Announce the Approval by Health Canada of COVIFENZ, an Adjuvanted Plant-Based COVID-19 Vaccine,” Press Release, Feb. 24, 2022.

About the author

Feliza Mirasol is the science editor for BioPharm International.

Article Details

BioPharm International
Vol. 35, No. 5
May 2022
Page: 12


When referring to this article, please cite it as F. Mirasol, “Emerging Plant-based Platform for Biomanufacturing,” BioPharm International 35 (5) 12 (2022).