A group of researchers from all over the world paid a visit to Kentucky Bioprocessing in Owensboro to learn more. KBP's research entails using one of Kentucky's signature crops, tobacco, to manufacture medicine, especially vaccines -- the scientists here are pioneers -- conducting trials for an HPV and HIV vaccine. They are also partnered with Bayer giving them another industry-changing advantage; they have the potential to produce drugs in large quantities and at low cost.
These scientific advances aren't just making an international name for KBP but for Owensboro as well. The city is currently building infrastructure to complement the growth of the pharmaceutical industry -- it's called the Center for Business and Research -- and officials say it will be ready in time for whatever is next in the Owensboro science community."
Researchers are now planning to meet in Owensboro every two years for an international symposium.
Until now, the gathering place for plant-based pharmaceutical scientists has been in Italy -- now Owensboro is the designated center for North America.
"I think it's the beginning of a real revolution. Owensboro is perfectly positioned to take full advantage of it," said German Dr. Yuri Gleba, managing director of Icon Genetics and affilate of Bayer.
With the first plant based drug only projected a few years away from going on the market, many international companies have to get their clinical materials through KBP, placing them right on the world circuit.
"When we talk about plant made pharmaceuticals, we talk about coming here because we know this is one of the innovators in the world that can actually make a commitment to supply what we believe will be FDA approvable products," said CEO of CBR International Corporation Dr. Jeanne Novak
Greater Owensboro Economic Development Corporation president Nick Brake likes Owensboro's position.
"It's a unique opportunity because it's an opportunity to really build an emerging industry. An industry that's growing and is really set to take off anytime now, making Owensboro the epicenter for that type of growth," said Brake.
"There's no doubt that they can scale it up if necessary to be a real manufacture when the products are approved by the Federal Drug Administration," said Gleba.
Dr. Novak says the local support from government and farmers will be what keeps KBP in the forefront internationally with plant based drugs.
Click on the following links to see TV news reports of the Plant Therapeutics Symposium at KBP