The French company Samabriva has chosen the Liège region to set up its industrial plant molecular farming unit, thereby revolutionising the pharmaceutical industry’s supply.
This is a major advance in plant molecular farming for the pharmaceutical industry thanks to their innovative technology offering a sustainable alternative to traditional field farming methods.
The challenge of natural molecules
The pharmaceutical industry depends broadly on natural plant molecules such as quinine, colchicine or vinblastine, which make up around 30% of current medicines. However, producing these molecules requires intensive farming, which has a negative effect on the environment, the quality of the end product and the predictability of supply.
A revolutionary alternative
Marina Guillet, immunologist at the University of Amiens, spent more than ten years searching for a sustainable alternative. As a result of a work, Samabriva, a company focused on industrial plant molecular farming in a laboratory, was founded in 2011. The process is based on the symbiosis between the plant and certain bacteria, generating a molecule that is sought when a bacterium infects the plant.
Samabriva chose Wallonia for its industrial expansion due to the ecosystem which is favourable for biotechnology and bioproduction. The proximity with Amiens, where the research and development (R&D) will remain located, and existing partnerships with Belgian companies were decisive factors. The construction of the industrial farming unit has been financed by 4 million euros raised with support of Business Angels, Bpifrance and the Walloon Region.
Samabriva’s latest technology
Samabriva’s innovative process is based on the isolation and development in a liquid environment of the plant’s ‘root hair’, generated in response to the bacterial infection. Unlike genetic modification, this is genetic engineering, modifying the natural expression of genes in the plant without injecting external substances. This technology enables constant production, offering a predictable supply and a high-quality end product which are essential for the pharmaceutical industry.
Constant and sustainable farming
Farming in a confined and sterile environment is up to 1,000 times more productive than field farming. This revolutionary approach is attracting the pharmaceutical industry by offering a more sustainable solution, with constant purity and availability all year round.
The future of Samabriva in Wallonia
The Samabriva farming unit should be operational by the end of 2024 or 2025. This ambitious project should also help the company grow from 10 to 25 or 30 members of staff.
Samabriva is launching into more sustainable, predictable and environmentally-friendly farming. This initiative is part of the growing commitment towards innovation in the Walloon pharmaceutical sector.
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