SEPT 2017: Improved glycoform-based biopharmaceutical production in plants

Improved glycoform-based biopharmaceutical production in plants, 18th to 20th September 2017, Manchester Institute of Biotechnology, UK

The workshop provided a forum for 20 academics and industrialists from Canada, mainland Europe and the UK, to facilitate collaboration between international partners in developing ‘non-traditional’ expression systems, focusing on plant cell factories, developing capabilities that can translate to existing and future platform technologies for production of biopharmaceuticals.

A key goal of the meeting is to explore opportunities for collaboration and funding within the BBSRC priority funding area ‘New approaches to industrial biotechnology’.

Specifically, the workshop focused on a deeper understanding of the native glycosylation machinery and the manipulation thereof for the production of biopharmaceutical products with enhanced or even novel functions.  The programme drew on the extensive experience in plant and yeast-based systems and approaches developed to achieve predictive modification of glycoform. Invited speakers were chosen based on their expertise in different areas of plant and yeast biology, glycosylation, protein biochemistry and cell trafficking.

“I found the meeting very constructive. As a “non-glycobiologist” we are often faced with the challenge of working with glycosylated proteins and therefore making contact with “real glycobiologists” is extremely useful. The majority of the people at the meeting were new contacts for me and Leaf Systems. A couple of potential projects were discussed, which were not directly related to glycosylation. For future grants we will most definitively make contact with people from the meeting, if applicable. As an SME, we would also welcome being part of other people or consortiums grant applications.” Nick Holton, Leaf Systems.


  • To provide a forum to facilitate collaboration between international partners in developing plant-based cell factories for production of biopharmaceuticals
  • To gather expertise on the mechanism of glycosylation and the consequences of glycoform on therapeutic protein functionality
  • To identify knowledge gaps in our understanding of plant glycosylation systems that are barriers to developing plant-based cell factories and how this knowledge deficit can be addressed
  • To identify opportunities for exploiting/engineering the glycosylation systems of plants to enhance the yield of functional homogenous biopharmaceuticals
  • Identify potential bottlenecks in the transport of a protein through the Endoplasmic Reticulum (ER)-Golgi, and develop tools to overcome yield-restricting bottlenecks in this process.


Monday September 18th 2017
17:00 Arrival at hotel (Macdonald Hotel, London Road, Manchester, M1 2PG)
18:30 Networking Dinner @ Macdonald Hotel – meet in reception at 18.30
Tuesday September 19th 2017 Speaker
09:00 For those staying at Macdonald hotel , meet in reception at 9am
09:15 Welcome and Objectives
09:30 Introduction: The mechanism of glycosylation and the consequences of glycoform on therapeutic protein functionality George Lomonossoff, JIC
09:45 Introduction: Appropriate glycosylation of recombinant proteins for human use: implications of choice of expression system Susan Brooks, Oxford Brookes University
10:00 Structural basis of nucleotide sugar transport across the Golgi membrane Simon Newstead, University of Oxford
Session One: State of the art
10:30 Glycan processing pathway in plant ER/Golgi Richard Strasser, BOKU
10:45 Relevance of glycoform for biopharmaceuticals Julian Ma, St George’s University
11:00 Coffee
11:30 Therapeutic proteins need glycosyltransferases Warren Wakarchuk, Ryerson University
11:45 Computational and systems biology tools for the study of protein glycosylation in the ER and Golgi Gavin Davey, Trinity College Dublin
12:00 Customized yeast glycosylation: ready for prime time in biopharma? Nico Callewaert, VIB
12:15 Chloroplasts: a bacterial surrogate for recombinant protein expression in plants Anil Day, University of Manchester
12:30 Glycoengineering of proteins using biocatalysis Sabine Flitsch, University of Manchester
12:45 Lunch
Session Two: Challenges in the commercialisation of biopharmaceutical production in plants
14:00 Developing the seed platform in order to create an alternative cost effective system for the production of complex recombinant proteins such as antibodies and composite vaccines Ann Depicker, VIB
13:30 Challenges of glycan engineering for optimizing therapeutic efficacies Herta Steinkellner, BOKU
13:45 Case study Doug Cossar, Plantform Corporation
14:00 Case Study Marc-Andre D’Aoust Medicago
14:15 Hypertrans® : Transient Leaf Expression – A New Production Model Nick Holton, Leaf Systems
14:30 Coffee
Session Three: Consolidating current knowledge
15:00 Group discussion: What have we learnt today?
16:00 Round up of Day 1
19:00 Networking Dinner @ The Refuge By Volta (Oxford Street, Manchester
M60 7HA)
Wednesday September 20th 2017
09:00 Welcome back and objectives for the day
Session Four: What are the knowledge gaps and barriers
09:15 Presentation: Funding calls currently or soon to be open
09:30 Discussion as one group and identify ‘gaps’
10:30 In smaller groups as result of group discussions identify opportunities for exploiting/engineering the glycosylation systems of plants to enhance the yield of functional homogenous biopharmaceuticals
11:15 Reporting back to the main group on mornings discussions
Session Five: Development of potential projects
11:45 Group discussion as to potential topics for funding and split into groups
13:00 Lunch
Session Six: Taking projects forward
14:00 Assembly ‘grant-ready’ teams to develop funding proposals
15:00 Action Planning
15:30 Round up of workshop and close