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Predictable plant-based production of complex biomolecules

| By Mary Page Bailey

Most plant-based bioprocesses involve growing plants in outdoor fields or greenhouses, but this is hindered by local climates and available space, and typical product yields are very low per plant, especially for natural active molecules used in pharmaceutical and healthcare ingredients. Now, a new biomanufacturing platform developed by Samabriva (Amiens, France; takes advantage of the unique properties of hairy roots to create a more stable and predictable way to make high-value molecules.

“We can cultivate hairy roots into a confined environment with only water, sugar and nutrients, and they will continue to grow indefinitely regardless of light or temperature. We can genetically modify the hairy roots in order to overexpress a molecule of interest within the root, meaning we can efficiently produce natural active molecules all year round,” explains Marina Guillet, CEO of Samabriva.

Since the hairy roots emerge from a single cell, they are considered a clonal system, which explains their excellent reproducibility. “This is not a transient system; it is highly stable. Once we have developed the hairy root clone, we are thus always working with the same hairy root clone for many years. Moreover, culture conditions of the hairy root clones can be fully controlled in large-scale bioreactors. This explains why we see such predictable growth rate and productivity of the system over time,” adds Guillet.

The company’s proprietary bioreactors enable onsite production of high-value molecules for which chemical synthesis is not efficient, such as alkaloids. Samabriva’s hairy-root system can also be configured to produce recombinant proteins without the use of any animal cells. The ability to synthesize all of these materials onsite and inexpensively in a GMP-certifiable system is advantageous in that production is not limited by regional growing conditions or transportation costs.