[27 June/AgFunder News]

CEO of iBio CDMO, Barry Holtz, said the real transfection of plants to make biopharmaceuticals was hatched in Palo Alto in a bar called the Sundance Mining Company in 1987. Transfection is the introduction of foreign DNA into plant cells to instruct them to create specific proteins. iBio used highly automated indoor farming methods to manufacture pharmaceutical drugs from plants. He noted an example where the company had received a vaccine against some form of influenza in the mail, and their contract was to make 50 million doses in 12 weeks which they achieved. The company’s products are now used to treat fibrotic diseases. The farms are underground with thick concrete walls. The growing and harvesting would happen without any human interaction. He said they had probably over engineered everything. He added the reward is high in pharmaceuticals, but so is the risk. It is expensive and licences for active ingredients were granted by formulation and not by facility.