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PlantForm to receive Government of Canada funding to advance HIV antibody research

New financial contribution will bring total IRAP conditional funding support to $1.48 million

December 12, 2016

GUELPH, Ont., CANADA— PlantForm Corporation is advancing its work on innovative antibody treatments for human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) with a financial contribution of up to $117,400 and technical and business advisory services from the National Research Council of Canada Industry Research Assistance Program (IRAP). It is the third round of funding PlantForm has received from IRAP for the HIV project since 2012, for a total financial contribution of up to $1,484,970.

The new funding will enable PlantForm to continue development, production and testing of antibodies for a potent anti-HIV therapeutic cocktail to treat strains of the disease circulating in sub-Saharan Africa and parts of the developing world. Building upon a $377,000 contribution from IRAP last year, the new agreement will support the current phase of the project until March 31, 2017.

“Sub-Saharan Africa is home to about two-thirds of the 35 million people living with HIV/AIDS – it’s one of the most important public health challenges of our time,” said Dr. Don Stewart, PlantForm’s President and CEO. “It’s essential that we continue working toward our goal of making low-cost, effective and safer drugs available where they are needed most so we can manage and one day eliminate the effects of HIV infection on the world’s most vulnerable populations.”

PlantForm is using its tobacco-plant-based vivoXPRESS® manufacturing system to produce antibodies that fight HIV infection by disrupting the virus’s method of entry into human CD4+ lymphocytes (T-cells). The company has previously produced, on a small scale, eight antibodies for HIV treatment that in vitro testing has shown are as effective as mammalian-derived antibodies against 15 strains of HIV.

The current project will focus on modelling the amounts of antibodies needed to neutralize and eliminate known HIV serotypes, and choosing the best three to five candidate antibodies for use in an HIV therapeutic cocktail. The research team will then express, purify and formulate the selected antibodies in sufficient quantities for efficacy testing. They will also assemble the anti-HIV antibody cocktail and determine the strength of the antibody-antigen interactions for commercially available HIV epitopes. In collaboration with Dr. Andrés Finzi at Université de Montréal, elimination assays will be performed to determine the efficacy of plant-based antibody cocktails for killing human CD4+ T cells infected with diverse strains of HIV.

Funding for the project is provided through IRAP’s Canadian HIV Technology Development (CHTD) Program, which is part of the Canadian HIV Vaccine Initiative (CHVI), a collaboration between the Government of Canada and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

About PlantForm Corporation (
PlantForm is a Canadian biotech company with a low-cost proprietary manufacturing process for a wide range of plant-made pharmaceuticals, including monoclonal antibodies, therapeutic proteins and vaccines for the treatment of cancer, HIV/AIDS, Ebola and other life-threatening conditions. The company’s vivoXPRESS® technology uses genetically engineered tobacco plants to produce biopharmaceuticals in less than six weeks at a significantly lower cost of goods compared to industry standard fermentation systems. Learn more.

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For more information, please contact:

Don Stewart
President and CEO
Stacey Curry Gunn
Director of Communications
(519) 827-1131