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Virus-Like particles

Similar benefits, with potentially lower risks.

Virus-like particles (VLPs) represent an exciting approach to vaccine development. VLPs mimic the native structure of viruses, allowing them to be easily recognized by the immune system. However, they lack core genetic material which makes them non-infectious and unable to replicate. In other words, they induce an immune response similar to a natural infection but without the inconveniences associated with it. VLPs can also be engineered to have antigens attached for use in vaccines or other immunotherapies.

Infectious influenza virus

has surface antigens, lipid membrane, internal proteins and genetic material

Medicago's VLP

is a non-infectious and a more efficient way of presenting antigens to the immune system

Infectious influenza virus

has surface antigens, lipid membrane, internal proteins and genetic material

Medicago's VLP

is a non-infectious and a more efficient way of presenting antigens to the immune system

Our goal is to introduce the future of influenza prevention.

Production platform

Plants as mini protein factories.

Plants are highly efficient at producing proteins of varying complexity, serving as bioreactors - or mini factories - for our vaccines and protein-based therapeutics. Medicago's plant-based production platform demonstrates agility, accuracy, and speed by eliminating the risk of mutation and contamination during production and significantly shortening production timelines.

Learn more about our plant-based vaccine production technology.

Our Platform's Competitive Advantages



Clinical grade material in 6 to 8 weeks



Ability to accurately match circulating strain

No risk of mutation in plants



Easily  scalable : one plant or 10,000 plants require the same growth conditions

Capacity adjustable to market needs - High yields



Co-expression of different proteins or subunits, from vaccines to antibodies

No use of transgenic plants


Medicago has developed the Proficia® technology, a proprietary potential alternative to traditional egg-based production systems. Traditional licensed influenza vaccines are prepared from embryonated chicken eggs, inoculated individually with each virus type. With living plants as hosts, Proficia® technology uses transient protein expression in plant leaves to create a flexible, high-yield system for producing effective vaccines and antibodies. This technology platform is very versatile and to date has been able to produce a wide range of protein-based products providing opportunities outside of influenza.

Proficia® can be applied for the production of vaccines, including virus-like particles (VLPs), and therapeutic proteins. Proficia® has been scaled down by Medicago's scientists to develop our rapid discovery platform, VLPExpress™.

How it Works


Genes are synthesized from viral sequence with no live virus required.


Genetic material is introduced into plants through vacuum infiltration.


Plants are incubated up to eleven days in growth chambers for protein expression and VLP formation.


Plants are harvested to extract VLPs.


VLPs are purified to obtain clinical grade material.

Transient expression occurs from recombinant DNA being transferred by a bacterial vector to the nucleus of plant cells without genomic integration. Medicago's system benefits from the combination of a highly efficient plant-derived expression cassette with the enhancing properties of a viral suppressor of transgene silencing.

In the transient expression system, a culture of the bacterial vector (Agrobacterium tumefaciens) is forced into the leaf tissue under vacuum. Once inside the tissue, bacteria bearing the gene of interest are capable of infecting the surrounding cells and transferring the recombinant DNA (named T-DNA for transfer DNA) to the nucleus of the plant cell. Inside the nucleus, the T-DNA is eventually transcribed into proteins without being integrated in the genome.


Incubation period of up to eleven days allowing for transient protein expression.

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Plant leaves are harvested and processed in Medicago's purification facility with commercial extraction systems (upstream processing) to generate a clarified, stabilized and concentrated extract which is then moved to the final steps of purification (downstream processing).
This process is used to provide clinical-grade active pharmaceutical ingredients, such as purified prophylactic or therapeutic proteins.