Traditional biotechnology processes require the use of carbon (sugars) and nitrogen (peptones) that are indispensable to the micro-organisms involved – bacteria and yeasts. These processes also emit CO2 as a consequence of fermentation/respiration mechanisms.
Aplantex’s industrial green biotech platform will produce abundant quantities of the phytochemical ingredients required for many commercial biopharmaceutical, cosmetics and agrifood applications – year-round and in a controlled environment, right here in Québec.
More than half the molecules used as active ingredients in the biopharmaceutical industry worldwide are ingredients that were originally drawn from plants. One well-known example is aspirin (salicylic acid), which was originally extracted from willow bark and led to the development of many anti-inflammatory molecules. Other phytochemical substances that play a role in human health are also sought out for their antioxidant, antimicrobial, anti-cancer and other properties.
Many phytochemical molecules are also used in the composition of beauty, anti-ageing and other products offered by major brands in various price brackets, and in the development of mass-market food products.
An innovative solution: photosynthetic phytoreplicators
Aplantex’s green biotech approach is based on the fact that plant genetics offer the optimal tool for expressing the active ingredients of plants. Our proprietary photosynthetic phytoreplicators allow us to clone biomass with the required genetic characteristics. Plant biomass production using photosynthetic phytoreplicators is very fast. The genetics of the biomass remains stable. The genetics of each clone can produce a particular set of active plant ingredients, thereby ensuring optimized production of molecules of interest with strong added value.
Of all the bioactive plant molecules targeted by Aplantex, our photosynthetic phytoreplicators are especially well-suited to the production of molecules that have a beneficial effect on human and animal metabolisms. Although these molecules may be present in the human diet, they usually appear in insufficient quantities to have an optimal effect. Our phytoreplicators are able to produce them in great quantities and with significant phytochemical diversity.
Our production of high-value molecules consists of four stages:
The biomass is produced using vertical hydroponics, in shallow, stacked trays fed a precisely metered nutritional solution by means of an ebb-and-flow system. Light is provided by LED lighting systems at each level. Biomass harvesting is automatic, daily and synchronized for optimal productivity.
A concentrated extract that meets the highest biopharmaceutical standards is produced by freeze-drying the biomass to less than 10% residual humidity.
Extraction and fractionation
The extraction is done in two steps – subcritical and supercritical – using a specific combination of solvents and subsequent combination of the fractions obtained.
This stage of the process is performed in a section that meets the most rigorous good manufacturing practice (GMP) standards, allowing for the isolation of certified molecules and their international distribution.
Chemical synthesis involves multiple steps that sometimes require extreme pH and temperature conditions, often using catalysts, some of which are toxic, and various other inputs. The complex industrial facilities demand high investments and significant energy expenditure. All of this is reflected in the asking price of the molecules produced in this way.
As most of Aplantex’s competitors that offer phytochemical ingredients are located overseas, with operations scattered all across the globe, they also have to add all the costs associated with the logistics of a long supply chain to the price of their products. Not to mention the effect of climate change uncertainties on their agricultural facilities, along with other uncertainties related to current political upheaval and its effects on labour markets and logistics. Finally, many bioactive molecules come from slow-growing perennials that sometimes require painstaking care, reducing the availability of the derived products and driving up costs.
Aplantex’s green biotech offers expanded, fast, regular access to certified bioactive plant molecules produced in a controlled environment. Our automated production process, which operates around the clock and in every season of the year, costs only a fraction of the amount required to operate traditional biotechnology or chemical synthesis facilities. Our facilities are powered by renewable hydroelectric energy. All this adds up to significantly more cost-effective production.