Medicago (Company)

Medicago (Company)

Medicago is a biopharmaceutical company founded in 1999, based in Quebec, Quebec, Canada, that uses plant-based manufacturing to develop vaccines and protein-based therapeutics. In 2013 became a subsidiary of Mitsubishi Tanabe Pharma Corporation.

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.


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. Medicago’s seasonal recombinant quadrivalent VLP vaccine for influenza is under review by Health Canada and has completed a safety and efficacy clinical program with more than 25,000 patients.


Medicago is developing both a vaccine and potential treatment of COVID-19. The company produced a virus-like particle (VLP) of the novel coronavirus SARS-CoV-2, which mimics the shape and dimensions of the virus so that the body can recognize and create an immune response. VLPs activate both arms of the immune system, the antibody and cell-mediated responses. After preclinical testing, clinical trials for the vaccine are expected in July or August 2020. Medicago is also developing antibodies against SARS-CoV-2 in collaboration with the Laval University Infectious Disease Research Centre, which could potentially be used to treat people already infected with the virus. Medicago has received $7 million from the Quebec provincial government for its COVID-19 vaccine development.


On March 1, 2010 Medicago received a research grant worth $300,000 from the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR).

Venture round

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.

Government support

On December 12, 2012 Medicago received $415,000 in financial support from the Quebec Government and Quebec City for Innovative Regional Project.


Medicago was founded.

Funding rounds

Funding round
Funding type
Funding round amount (USD)
Funding round date
Medicago funding round, May 2010
May 13, 2010
1 Result
Results per page:
Page 1 of 1



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

Further reading


Medicago to build $245M production facility in Quebec City



Documentaries, videos and podcasts





Andrew Dunn
February 5, 2021
Business Insider
The biotech company's top scientist said early results from the ongoing trial "look good" so far, with pivotal results likely coming in April or May.
Sharon Kirkey
November 10, 2020
The vaccine news sent hopes soaring, but scientists caution critical information is missing and warned of the perils of science by press release
November 13, 2020
Canadas National Research Council providing a combined C$23.2 million in funding to six other early-stage projects
Ben Adams
November 12, 2020
After signing up to use GlaxoSmithKline's adjuvant vaccine technology back in the summer, Canadian biotech Medicago has already finished off a phase1, and is now kicking on with several phase 2/3 trials.
November 12, 2020
The news comes days after early-stage data showed Medicago's plant-based vaccine candidate produced virus-fighting antibodies in all volunteers. Medicago, backed by cigarette maker Philip Morris International, is Canada's most advanced COVID-19 vaccine project, but lags larger, global rivals
Alex Keown
November 12, 2020
Biopharma and life sciences companies from across the globe provide updates on their businesses and pipelines.
November 10, 2020
Global News
Medicago says the side effects were generally mild to moderate and short in duration.
Ben Adams
July 7, 2020
Hoping to broaden shots on target, GlaxoSmithKline is continuing its strategy of giving out access to its vaccine platform as it adds Medicago to its growing partners list.


Page 1 of 2
Golden logo
Text is available under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0; additional terms apply. By using this site, you agree to our Terms & Conditions.