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"Plant seed production of biopharmaceuticals”

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Thursday 21 December 2017, 11:00 - 12:30


Plants have a high performant protein expression system, competent in assembling complex proteins such as serum IgG antibodies and secreted mucosal IgA antibodies. In our group, we focused on the use of plant seeds for developing novel antibodies and biologicals because seeds can store these recombinant proteins in a very concentrated way, they are easily scalable depending on the needs, and most importantly, they provide a matrix in which the recombinant protein remains functional for years at ambient storage temperature.

In this seminar, I will describe how we evaluated the opportunities provided by biopharmaceuticals produced in plant seeds in various collaborations, in this way covering green, red and white aspects of biotechnology.

We obtained proof of concept for the protection of piglets from gastric bacterial infection by a feed additive of crushed seeds expressing specific antibodies. Such a feed additive could for instance be used upon weaning of piglets when they are most sensitive for gastrointestinal infection and in this way reduce the therapeutic use of antibiotics. Also, seed-produced antibodies open the possibility to treat gastrointestinal infections in humans by oral consumption of a crude seed extract, formulated to contain an effective dose.

Another application explored was the production of monoclonal antibodies (MABs) and vaccines in a glyco-engineered seed matrix. Because most therapeutic MABs and vaccines are administered as injectables, an issue of concern is the plant-specific glycosylation they might contain, which can result in adverse and allergenic reactions over time. Therefore, the GlycoDelete technology was applied and shown to be working in plant seeds. Upon eliminating and introducing specific enzyme activities in the seeds, several glycoproteins accumulating in GlycoDelete seeds uniformly contain only one single sugar moiety. In this way it would be possible to stock pile neutralizing glycan-free antibodies specific for seasonal/epidemic/pandemic infectious diseases in seeds and only start processing and purifying those in case of an infection outbreak.


Collaborations: Prof. Nico Callewaert (UGent-VIB), Prof. Eric Cox (UGent), Prof. Henry De Greve (VUB-VIB), Dr. Erik Vanderbeke (AVEVE), Dr. Sam Millet (ILVO), Dr Vikram Virdi (UGent-VIB)

Location Jozef Schell Seminar Room
Contact Prof Ann Depicker
VIB-UGent Center for Plant Systems Biology