Medico is a biopharmaceutical company manufacturing plat-based vaccines and therapeutics that is headquartered in Quebec City, Quebec and was founded in 1999. Medicago, established based on research at Agriculture Canada and Laval University, is named after the Latin word for alfalfa, the first plant the company worked on. Medicago is 40% owned by the cigarette company, Philip Morris, and 60% of Medicago’s shares were purchased by Mitsubishi Tanabe Pharma in 2013.
Medicago developed technology for producing vaccines, antibodies, protein-based products and therapeutic proteins inside plants, called Proficia. Medicago developed a modified version of the platform called VLP Express for drug discovery. Their system introduces recombinant DNA into the bacteria Agrobacterium tumefaciens, which are introduced into tobacco leaves where they infect surrounding cells and transfer the recombinant DNA, called transfer DNA (T-DNA) to the plant nucleus. Without integrating into the plant genome, the T-DNA is transcribed and translated, producing the encoded protein. After 11 days leaves are harvested and proteins are extracted and purified to produce clinical-grade pharmaceutical ingredients.
Medicago uses Nicotiana benthamiana, a tobacco species that naturally makes proteins at high speed. Whereas a vaccine produced using eggs is a six-month process, Medicago’s plant production cycle takes about six weeks. The plants produce virus-like particles that resemble the flu virus and are claimed to elicit an immune response against the flu. As of 2018 their flu vaccine was in phase 3 clinical trials.
Medicago USA is a wholly-owned subsidiary based in Research Triangle Park, North Carolina and partnered with the U.S. Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), which has a manufacturing facility that produces vaccines for clinical studies.
H5N1 pandemic influenza VLP vaccine
Medicago’s candidate products include H5N1 pandemic influenza VLP vaccine, seasonal influenza and H1N1 vaccines. Products in development include Rotavirus vaccine in alliance with Mitsubishi Tanabe Pharma Corporation and an Ebola prevention vaccine in collaboration with DARPA.
On March 1, 2010 Medicago received a research grant worth $300,000 from the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR).
On May 13, 2010 Medicago completed a venture capital funding round with $10 million in funding from Yorkville Advisors.
Private equity round
On September 27, 2011 Medicago completed a private equity round with $25 million in funding from Fonds De Solidarite FTQ, CTI Life Sciences Fund, and AgChecm Venture Fund.
On December 12, 2012 Medicago received $415,000 in financial support from the Quebec Government and Quebec City for Innovative Regional Project.
Bruce D. Clark Ph.D.
President, CEO & Director
Michael E. Wanner
CFO & U.S. Site Manager
Michael Schunk DVM, DVSc
Executive Vice-President of Operations
Nathalie Landry M.Sc., MBA
Vice-President of Product Development
Todd Talarico Ph.D.
Vice-President of Process Development
Medicago to build $245M production facility in Quebec City
Documentaries, videos and podcasts
- BiotechnologyBiolotechnology can refer to the application of science and technology to living organisms or the use of living organisms, their parts, products or models thereof to solve a problem, produce knowledge or produce goods and services. Biotechnology may involve the alteration of living or non-living materials.