GE Healthcare and iBio extend alliance

Aim to commercialise plant-based technologies for biopharma and vaccine manufacture

Automated plant agro-infiltration equipment

GE Healthcare has formed a global alliance with iBio aimed at using plant-based technologies for the manufacture of biopharmaceuticals and vaccines. Financial terms were not disclosed.

The alliance builds on an existing development and marketing agreement between the two companies announced in 2010. It combines iBio’s plant-based vaccine manufacturing platform, iBioLaunch, with GE Healthcare’s capabilities in technologies for biopharmaceutical manufacturing.

iBio’s research and development collaborator, Fraunhofer USA Center for Molecular Biotechnology (CMB), will continue to play a key role in advancing the iBioLaunch platform.

iBioLaunch is a proprietary gene expression technology that induces plants rapidly to produce high levels of proteins such as vaccines, in a process which can be easily and reliably scaled-up in low cost, controlled-growth facilities.

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GE Healthcare’s team of bioengineers and bioprocessing scientists are working with researchers from iBio and CMB to develop a single, flexible facility which could significantly reduce the capital and operating costs of biotherapeutic and vaccine manufacture compared with traditional animal cell and microbial based methods.

The iBioLaunch platform also has the potential to manufacture proteins which cannot be commercially produced in any other system.

In work funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, iBio’s pioneering plant-based technology has been used to produce an avian influenza vaccine candidate that recently completed a successful Phase I clinical trial. The iBioLaunch platform was also used to produce a candidate vaccine against H1N1 influenza, for which a human Phase I trial was successfully completed in March. Olivier Loeillot, general manager of Enterprise Solutions at GE Healthcare Life Sciences, said: ‘We look forward to continuing our work with the talented teams at iBio and CMB to explore how this innovative technology could become a commercial reality.’

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