News Release

Isolation and characterization of key enzyme for ephedrine production

Newly discovered enzyme opens the door to commercial production of ephedra-related active pharmaceutical ingredients in engineered microbes

Peer-Reviewed Publication

Epimeron Inc.

CALGARY, Canada, July 10, 2018 -Epimeron, Inc., a world-class provider of gene discovery and biosynthetic pathway optimization, today announced the isolation and characterization of an enzyme from Ephedra sinica catalyzing an essential step in the formation of the important drugs ephedrine and pseudoephedrine. Deploying the gene encoding the newly discovered enzyme in microbes allows the production of ephedrine and pseudoephedrine by fermentation instead of using chemical processes. This breakthrough also enables the bioproduction of other pharmaceutically important related compounds.

Microbial production of active pharmaceutical ingredients (APIs) holds the promise to replace current methods required to isolate these APIs and their intermediates from plant sources. Fermentation in microbes has potential to provide higher yields and lower cost of goods. Biosynthetic manufacturing systems also promise the opportunity for expanded novel pharmaceutical candidates that unlike traditional novel molecules come with highly efficient, ready-made production systems.

"Until now, the production of ephedrine and pseudoephedrine has involved the use of chemical processes. Plant genes allow the process to be performed entirely by microbial fermentation, which is sustainable, secure and environmentally friendly. Our discovery of the gene and its remarkable performance in engineered microbes was made possible by the strong partnership between Epimeron and the world-leading expertise in gene discovery and biochemistry at the University of Calgary, as well as with support from Innovate Calgary ," stated Professor Peter Facchini, PhD, Chief Scientific Officer of Epimeron.

Joseph Tucker, PhD, CEO and President of Epimeron commented, "We have previously revealed some our progress towards building a commercially scalable fermentative production system for manufacturing opiate APIs and intermediates. Epimeron is now leveraging the expertise developed in that opiate program to expand into the microbial production of ephedra-related APIs".

"This discovery is another significant step in validating that the microbial fermentation of plant genes can be a viable and commercially attractive method of producing active pharmaceutical ingredients. It is a considerable demonstration that microbial production is possible across other pharmaceutical compounds," stated Dr. John Wilson, PhD, Director, Physical and Life Sciences, Innovate Calgary.

The article, titled "An N-methyltransferase from Ephedra sinica catalyzing the formation of ephedrine and pseudoephedrine enables substituted phenylalkylamine production in engineered microbes", is available online at the Journal of Biological Chemistry here.


About Epimeron

Epimeron Inc. is working to enable the commercialization of high-value bioproducts by making key discoveries in plant genomics for our Synthetic Biology partners. At Epimeron Inc., newly discovered genetic elements and biochemical strategies are translated into the appropriate commercial host organism. Epimeron Inc. seeks to partner and work together to enhance the success of manufacturing programs.

Safe Harbor Statement

Some of the statements made in this press release are forward-looking statements. These forward-looking statements are based upon our current expectations and projections about future events and generally relate to our plans, objectives and expectations for the development of our business. Although management believes that the plans and objectives reflected in or suggested by these forward-looking statements are reasonable, all forward-looking statements involve risks and uncertainties and actual future results may be materially different from the plans, objectives and expectations expressed in this press release.

About Innovate Calgary

Innovate Calgary is the innovation transfer and business incubator centre for the University of Calgary. As part of the Office of the Vice President (Research) portfolio, it works closely with researchers, students, faculty and staff to help bridge the gap between discovery and innovation. From ideation to commercialization, Innovate Calgary has successfully supported innovation-driven research for 32 years.

For more information, contact:

Epimeron, Inc.
Joseph Tucker, PhD
CEO and President

Innovate Calgary

Tara Barnas
Dir. Communications and Marketing

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