Lab R&D Phase: 2012-2017
Sequentia’s research into trichomes started with Luis, the principal investigator, and his postdoc (2012-2014) on trichome formation in different plants and their possible applications, including Artemisia annua, at Dr. Soraya Pelaz group in the Centre for Research in AgriGenomics (CRAG). He decided to apply for, and won, the Torres Quevedo grant by MINECO (Ministry of Economy, Industry and Competitiveness) with the aim of trying to optimize this medicinal plant using different biotechnology techniques.
After three years of hard-work trying different methods, laboratory and controlled-greenhouse experiments finally gave very positive results. Luis was able to produce twice the artemisinin concentration in Artemisia annua leaves, as well as increasing the foliar or ‘leaf” biomass three times, all in all increasing the production of artemisinin six-fold. At the same time, he was able to accelerate the growth of Artemisia annua to just over 2 months instead of its usual 8 months, meaning that the production was increased five times annually.
Based on these results, in 2016 we applied for and won the prestigious Neotec fund by CDTI (Centre for the Development of Industrial Technology), which co-finances the pilot production of our optimized Artemisia annua in the field through to the development of the final product.