Cherilyn Mackrory, MP for Truro and Falmouth, visited on Friday 3 February Truro-based Phytome Life Sciences, a business conducting biopharmaceutical research to develop medicines from plants.

Phytome Life Sciences is working in collaboration with the University of Plymouth to study how high-precision plant cultivation in controlled environments can be used to support a range of pharmaceutical and medical applications.

The University and Phytome are developing and researching ways to secure the consistent and scalable production of active pharmaceutical ingredients for disease-targeted clinical development.

This, it is envisaged, will include the use of plants to produce drugs and other compounds that can be used to treat a range of diseases.

The collaboration is being spearheaded by Phytome’s Head of Plant Sciences Dr Hail Rihan, a Senior Research Fellow in the University’s School of Biological and Marine Sciences, with three graduates from the University also having been hired to assist with these research projects.

Phytome Life Sciences announced a project in November 2022 with OSRAM Digital Systems to develop an AI-driven research project that will probe the epigenetic impact of light and other environmental factors to unlock a quantum leap in the plant-based production of high-value biotherapeutics in a controlled-environment system.

In September 2022, the business announced an initial partnership agreement to collaborate with Celadon, a UK leader in breakthrough cannabis-based medicines for early-stage research and development projects.

Phytome Life Sciences has a UK Government cultivation and development licence to grow and conduct biopharmaceutical research into plant-derived therapeutics from pharmaceutical cannabis. 

The initial partnership agreement will explore the potential to develop novel medicines for the UK pharmaceutical market.

Dr Sebastian Vaughan, Chief Executive Officer of Phytome Life Sciences said: “We are committed to building a Cornish-based medical drug discovery-to-commercialisation business through partnering with world-class universities, biotherapeutic, technology, pharmaceutical businesses.

“We have plans to hire local people and give them the training to develop their skills in life sciences and its related technologies. Cherilyn Mackrory’s support for the life sciences in Cornwall is critical to us fostering the optimum translational academic-business ecosystem for world class life sciences businesses to flourish away from the Oxford, Cambridge and London triangle.”

Professor Richard Preziosi, Head of the School of Biological and Marine Sciences at University of Plymouth, added: “This collaboration offers us a platform through which to apply our research in ways that can transform lives.

“The research we are carrying out with Phytome is innovative in every sense, and the opportunities it could create for our future graduates is equally exciting. Its impact on the economy of Cornwall is yet another positive and furthers our vision of creating and enabling high-quality jobs for current and future staff and students here in the South West.”

Cherilyn Mackrory, MP for Truro and Falmouth said: “I am delighted to have seen the facilities Phytome is developing here in Cornwall for life science technology. 

“This is a good example of business working in tandem with technology and universities to upscale their research to progress this to enable medicines to be developed in the UK pharmaceutical market.”