Phyton Biotech is the pioneer in commercial scale Plant Cell Fermentation (PCF®) for the development and manufacture of plant-derived active molecules for the treatment of cancer and other life-threatening illnesses. Our company’s inspiring history began in 1990 with the work of two talented postdoctoral fellows at Cornell University in Ithaca, New York.
With the objective of developing manufacturing solutions for complex natural plant-derived actives through PCF®, they advanced an idea that many people thought would be impossible to realize: To produce Paclitaxel from plant cell cultures through fermentation instead of through harvesting the rare and slow growing Pacific Yew tree.
Paclitaxel Used as Active Pharmaceutical Ingredient
The bark of the Pacific Yew was the original source of Paclitaxel, the active ingredient in Bristol-Myers Squibb’s TAXOL® brand. TAXOL® was the first taxane-based oncology injectable to gain FDA approval, which marked a quantum leap forward in the treatment of breast, ovarian, and other forms of cancer. The need for Paclitaxel was so great that environmentalists feared its widespread use would render the Pacific Yew extinct. Scientists estimated that one tree was destroyed for each patient treated. Today, a single tiny vial from our working plant cell bank produces enough paclitaxel to treat thousands of patients.
Largest GMP PCF® Facility in the World
In 1993, Phyton acquired a manufacturing plant in Ahrensburg, Germany (near Hamburg) and created the largest GMP PCF® facility in the world, with fermentors up to 75,000 L in size. This achievement helped spawn a long-term collaboration with Bristol-Myers Squibb (BMS) to scale up and supply the company with Paclitaxel-containing broth produced using our patented technology. Commercial supply to BMS began in 2002 under an agreement that lasted just over a decade.
DFB Acquisition Advances our PCF® Technology
In 2003, Phyton was acquired by DFB Pharmaceuticals, a private Texas-based investment company with an established track record of success in pharmaceutical manufacturing, product development and commercialization. Under DFB, Phyton continued to advance PCF® technology to express a recombinant protein for enzyme replacement therapy that was advanced to a preclinical trial by 2007.
In late 2009, Phyton acquired the assets of Natural Pharmaceuticals, Inc., a global supplier of oncology APIs including paclitaxel and docetaxel, with a finished API manufacturing facility near Vancouver, Canada.
Phyton combined the capabilities of the German and Canadian facilities and staff to develop and commercialize both paclitaxel and docetaxel API using PCF® rather than 10-DAB as the starting material. Our goal was to pioneer the supply of both Paclitaxel and Docetaxel that did not rely on the problematic yew-tree plantation derived 10-DAB.
World’s Largest Producer of Taxane APIs
Phyton is now the world’s largest producer of taxane APIs, and possesses the capacity to meet over half the world’s demand for Paclitaxel and Docetaxel API. Both taxanes are USP/EP grade, supported by Certificates of Suitability and Drug Master Files, and approved by many countries around the world.
Beyond APIs into New Development
Additionally, the unique technology and know-how that is fundamental to Phyton’s business has allowed us to broaden our scope both within and outside of the API business. We are expanding our reach beyond the production of Paclitaxel and Docetaxel and into the development of important new molecules, the application of nanoparticle technology, and production of recombinant proteins for biosimilar and biobetter applications.
Throughout the course of our exciting history, our goal has remained the same: To bring life-saving treatments to patients by drawing on our unique ability to combine nature and science.