Works begin on facility to commercialise ground-breaking biotechnology

Construction has begun on Leaf Systems' new bioscience facility at Norwich Research Park

Building work has commenced on Leaf Systems’ new bioscience facility at Norwich Research Park, paving the way for the commercialisation of the company’s ground-breaking technology.

Leaf Systems’ patented Hypertrans technology, developed by John Innes Centre (JIC) scientist Prof George Lomonossoff, produces valuable proteins in plants. The proteins are then extracted to create new high value products, including therapeutic drugs and vaccines.

Hypertrans differs from current methods of producing similar materials for development, which rely on yeast cultures, bacteria and animal tissue. Prof Lomonossoff’s technology is faster than existing commercial processes and is already being used under license to manufacture flu vaccines for clinical trials in Canada and the US.

The new building, which is being built just yards from the from the JIC laboratory where the scientific breakthrough was made, will comprise state of the art plant-growing areas and development laboratories.

Leaf Systems general manager, Dr Steven Powell, said: “We are working closely with the John Innes Centre to translate the Hypertrans technology into a successful commercial entity.

“The state-of-the-art building is a very important stage in this process and it is very exciting to see work commence on the building.”

For Prof Lomonossoff, the development represents an important milestone in his research career: “To see the results of an invention from my lab being translated into a facility to produce medically important materials is a dream come true for me.”

The building is being facilitated by Norwich Research Partners. Chief executive officer Dr Sally Ann Forsyth said: “We are delighted to be playing our part in pump-priming such an exciting, innovative enterprise which has major potential for worldwide application and impact.

“One of our key objectives is to nurture bioscience business ventures established as spin-outs from research facilities based at the Park. We will do all that we can to help them prosper.”

Construction work is expected to be complete within six months – and Leaf Systems expects to be fully operational by the end of March 2017.