Extended Hypertrans license boosts Leaf Expression Systems

A Norwich company leading the way in the production of plant-based pharmaceuticals has been given the go-ahead to extend its operations.

Leaf Expression Systems has agreed an enhanced deal with Plant Bioscience Ltd (PBL), the intellectual property and commercialisation arm of the John Innes Centre, granting it exclusive rights to sub-license the Hypertrans transient expression system, the core technology underpinning the company’s biologics and vaccines contract development and manufacturing services business.

Developed by Professor George Lomonossoff at the John Innes Centre, the Hypertrans system allows for the rapid simultaneous production of multiple gene products in a controlled and coordinated manner within the tissues of plants. Using gene synthesis and modular vectors, new products such as vaccines, antibodies or enzymes can be produced at speed and on a large scale, meaning it could be useful in emergency situations such as pandemics.

Under the new deal, Leaf  effectively takes full control of the technology and associated patented intellectual property. This extension of Leaf’s rights will ensure that Leaf’s clients are able to use Hypertrans for the manufacture of their products in multiple geographical locations to meet the needs of individual markets and to enable clients to take advantage of lower manufacturing costs in some of these markets.

Leaf’s CEO Simon Saxby said: “I am delighted that we have strengthened our relationship with PBL and that we can now offer our clients the assurances they need in order to plan for scale up manufacture using Hypertrans in the locations that are most appropriate for the target indications of their new biologic drugs or vaccines”.

PBL managing director Dr Jan Chojecki added: “Leaf has been outstandingly successful in establishing its technical operations and developing its customer base and partnering activity. Now is the time to put Leaf fully in the driving seat with regard to this important and proprietary intellectual property asset developed originally by Professor George Lomonossoff at the John Innes Centre”.

Leaf Expression Systems is based in a purpose-built, state-of-the-art facility on Norwich Research Park that boasts of four environmentally controlled growing rooms, plant potting areas, a plant inoculation area, microbiology/molecular biology labs, protein purification and natural product processing facilities.