It all started in the lab as part of Sequentia Biotech’s R&D Tricopharming department. Led by Dr. Luis Matías Hernández, it was set up to investigate the use of tricopharming techniques to optimize different plants that produce diverse medicinal and aromatic compounds in their trichomes or plant hairs, starting with Artemisia annua. Following positive results in the lab and in the pilot field studies, in October 2018, Biotech Tricopharming Research (Tricopharming for short) the company was founded in order to continue the development and commercialization of this optimized Artemisia annua, named Artennua.
In parallel, we are applying our technology to other medicinal and aromatic plants, such as lavender, thyme, mint, basil and salvia, amongst others. Aside from continuing to develop our own R&D, Tricopharming also provides personalized R&D services and field trials to other companies and research centres that are looking to improve the production of commercially viable plants for the pharma, nutraceutical and natural cosmetics sectors.
Trichomes are the small epidermal protrusions or ‘hairs’ on the surfaces of leaves of most plants. Biologically, they are used for self-defence: they provide protection against high temperature, radiation, wind, humidity, pests and herbivore attacks. Trichomes’ peculiarity is that they are able to synthesize, store and sometimes secrete large amounts of specialized metabolites which could have significant therapeutic and commercial value in sectors such as natural cosmetics, animal health, pharma and nutraceuticals. The problem is that, usually, these metabolites are produced in very small quantities. Tricopharming applies biotechnology and agriculture to help optimize the concentration of these compounds of interest, as well as the number of trichomes and the general growth of the plants. Tricopharming is 100% natural, sustainable and scalable.
The first product to emerge from Tricopharming is Artennua, an optimized version of the Artemisia annua medicinal plant, which produces the antimalarial artemisinin. Artemisia annua is one of the most studied plants in the world; there are hundreds of scientific publications elucidating its therapeutical properties, as well several clinical trials in process to assess its effectiveness against several forms of cancer, lupus, HIV, schizophrenia and lyme disease amongst others. Artemisia annua is also increasingly being used in the animal health industry to prevent and treat uncomplicated leishmaniasis and coccidiasis. Its anti-aging, antimicrobial, antibacterial and antioxidant properties makes its extracts suitable for industries such as dermatology, natural cosmetics and nutraceuticals. Tricopharming is not only looking to replicate the success of Artennua with other other aromatic and medicinal plants but also with other Artemisia species, a plant genus that produces a wide range of sesquiterpenes that have enormous therapeutic potential.
Walter Sanseverino and Riccardo Aiese Cigliano
Walter and Riccardo set up bioinformatics company Sequentia Biotech in 2013. In order to continue pursuing their research interests in plants, they set up the Tricopharming R&D department in 2014, which has evolved into Biotech Tricopharming Research the company today, and where they participate as founders.
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The CEO and Co-Founder
Luís Matías Hernández
Luis was responsible for all the R&D work undertaken in the lab for Artennua from the very beginning. He tried every method under the sun to try to optimize the concentration of artemisinin. In true Luis style, when all of them failed, he came up with his own. Luis is now CEO of Biotech Tricopharming Research, and oversees all the product development and distribution activities required to commercialize Artennua. Luis is also a science communicator, author, traveller and prolific networker. Find out more about Luis:
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The CFO and Co-Founder
Chiara was the other original member of the Artennua project alongside Luis. Aside from Luis’ successful lab results, reaching the Pilot-Production stage had a lot to do with Chiara’s efforts in submitting Artennua for the Neotec fund, one of the most challenging and demanding application processes in Spain. Today, she is in charge of all the financial and administrative aspects of running the company, and also assists in business development activities.
Chiara LinkedIn Profile
The Co-founder, Tech Transfer & Scientific Manager
Pedro Fernández Nohales
Pedro has 5 years’ experience as a Technology Transfer officer and oversees all the scientific and tech transfer issues. He also has a lot of experience writing national and European grants, such as H2020. His experience and network of hospitals, doctors and clinics at INCLIVA will also provide invaluable insight and support with the human health applications of Artennua.
Pedro LinkedIn Profile