2017 – SEPTEMBER: Improved Glycoform-Based Biopharmaceutical Production in Plants


18-20 September 2017 | Manchester Institute of Biotechnology


The workshop provided a forum for 20 academics and industrialists from the UK, Canada and Europe, 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.