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2009 News


August 2009

PBL / John Innes Centre technology instrumental in Medicago’s flu vaccine production

Quebec City, Canada and Norwich, UK, 12 August 2009 – MedicagoJIC (John Innes Centre) and PBL (Plant Bioscience Limited) announced today that Medicago’s outstanding achievement in producing the H1 VLP antigen in only 14 days, as revealed in the Canadian company’s press release on 30 June 2009, was achieved using among other technologies, a technology invented by JIC researchers and which is licensed by PBL to Medicago 

The CPMV-HT (Cowpea Mosaic Virus-HyperTranslatable) expression system was developed by Prof George Lomonossoff and Dr Frank Sainsbury at the John Innes Centre, UK using specific elements of comoviruses.  It achieves extremely high levels of heterologous protein expression within a few days without the need for virus replication.  It also has the benefit of not producing infectious viral particles and thus achieves complete bio-containment while peeding up the whole process of protein production.  A patent application with inventors from the John Innes Centre has been filed by PBL, the technology ransfer company of the John Innes Centre. 

Please click here to see the full article.  For more information on CPMV-HT please click here or contact Dr Lars von Borcke.

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July 2009

PBL among "Innovative exporters vital to UK economy"

PBL attended a reception at No 10 Downing Street along with other firms who have been working with UK Trade and Investment (UKTI) to help build their overseas business activities. Dr Jan Chojecki, PBL's Managing Director, said "UKTI, along with IATC and the Science and Innovation Team at the British Consulate in Sao Paolo, have been of great assistance with our recent activities in Latin America, which have led to the signing of our technology transfer collaboration agreement with Brazil's national agricultural research organisation, Embrapa, and our working with Argentina's principal government funding agency CONICET, to provide our services to Argentine universities."

Please click here to see full article.  For more information, please contact Dr Jan Chojecki.

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July 2009

£13.1m Investment for Novacta

Novacta Biosystems Limited, which was founded by PBL and the John Innes Centre in 2001, has secured a £13.1m financing from Celtic Pharma and existing investors. "We are delighted for Novacta" said PBL Managing Director, Dr Jan Chojecki, "it will really accelerate the development Novacta's strong portfolio including its exciting and advanced C difficile programme.” 

Please click here to see full article.  For more information, please contact Dr Jan Chojecki.

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June 2009

Natural Product Crop Protection Technology Licensed

PBL grants licence to Becker Underwood for Novel Seed Treatment Technology from Lancaster University. The technology uses a natural plant compound as a seed treatment, resulting in long-lasting protection against pests following germination. 

Field tests by Becker Underwood in a number of important agricultural crops have now clearly demonstrated reductions in pest damage and consequent increased crop yields. The agreement with PBL will enable Becker Underwood to incorporate the seed treatment in their product range and to work with other partners to apply the technology as widely as possible. 

Please click here to see full article.  For more information, please contact Dr Lars von Borcke.

 

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May 2009

EMBRAPA and PBL Form Technology Development and Commercialisation Partnership

The Brazilian Agricultural Research Corporation, Embrapa, and PBL, the UK technology management company have signed a cooperation agreement under which they will work together to develop new technologies for Brazilian agricultural markets and to promote and market new innovations emerging from Embrapa’s large research network.

Please click here to see full article.  For more information, please contact Dr Jan Chojecki.

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May 2009

Medicago Receives 2009 Genesis Innovation Award

Medicago Inc has recently received the 2009 Genesis Innovation Award for its outstanding contribution to the growth in Quebec’s biotech, health tchnology and life sciences industries. Medicago is focussed on producing vaccines in plant based systems and is a licensee of PBL’s plant expression system based on the cow pea mosaic virus developed by Drs Frank Sainsbury and George Lomonossoff at the John Innes Centre. 

Please click here to see full article.  For more information, please contact Dr Lars von Borcke.

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May 2009

Industrial Uses of Bacterial Sex Machinery Revealed by Follow-on Fund Project

IFR researchers Regis Stentz and Claire Shearman have completed a BBSRC Follow-on Fund project op the CsiA gene for a range of potential industrial uses. The IFR team have found that when overexpressed, CsiA results in increased cell susceptibility to detergent-induced lysis. Also expressing CsiA at low levels results in a “leaky” phenotype in which cytoplasmic proteins leech out into the growth medium - with potential uses in protein production systems. Both these features have immediate and potentially valuable industrial applications, in areas as diverse as accelerated ripening in cheese, large-scale industrial protein manufacture and possibly even therapeutic delivery of bioactive molecules to the human or animal GI tract. The work has been protected by a patent filing and is being commercialised through PBL. 

For more information, please contact Dr Martin Stocks.

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April 2009

IFR's Model Gut in the Media

The Dynamic Gastric Model (DGM or “model gut”) is a functioning model of the human stomach which can accurately replicate gastric digestive processes. The DGM has recently enjoyed a starring role on TV, appearing in the BBC2 program “Professor Regan's Diet Clinic”, where Dr Richard Faulks from the DGM team demonstrated how the model gut can be used to compare nutrient release from fresh and processed foods.

Also in the news, Dr Martin Wickham, the DGM team leader was shortlisted in the final six for the BBSRC Innovator of the Year, a prestigious award celebrating the best commercially directed science from the BBSRC fold.  Martin and the DGM have since been showcased in articles by the Daily Mail, and an upcoming news item for the BBC online service.

The DGM is attracting wide industrial interest, including the food and pharmaceutical sectors, and its commercial development is managed by PBL. The DGM is available for contract research work via the joint PBL / IFR “Model Gut” business unit. 

Please click here for more information, or contact Dr Martin Stocks.

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April 2009

Olivier Voinnet awarded 2009 EMBO Gold Medal

Olivier Voinnet from the CNRS Institute of Plant Molecular Biology in Strasbourg, France, has been awarded the 2009 EMBO Gold Medal.  Olivier previously worked with David Baulcombe at the Sainsbury Laboratory in Norwich, UK.  He is an inventor on PBL's suppressor of gene silencing intellectual property (PBL Tech ID 99.194), which is widely licensed to the plant biotech industry and is an important tool for enhancing the over-expression of proteins in plants.  In addition PBL is now handling two new technologies from Olivier Voinnet and Lionel Navarro, involving manipulating the plant gene silencing pathway to confer resistance to a wide variety of pathogens.  Details of these two new technologies will be released soon. 

For more information, please contact Dr Lars von Borcke.

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March 2009

Plant Stem Cells and Lignin-free Cellulose Production

Drs Edouard Pesquet and Clive Lloyd at the John Innes Centre have made a significant scientific breakthrough by discovering a way to make stable, totipotent plant cells to actively divide in liquid culture. Moreover, these cells can be grown triggered to form xylem tracheary elements (which are the basis of wood) in culture. For the first time, this enables the efficient production of SECONDARY cellulose without the lignin that would otherwise interfere with processing this high cellulose product. This opens up an economically feasible way to make lignin-free cellulose, for a wide range of biomaterials applications, without the environmental penalties associated with lignin removal. The technology has been patented and is being marketed by PBL. 

For more information, please contact Dr Lars von Borcke.

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