In 1997, in a small, unfurnished garage in Quebec City, a small group of scientists toiled, driven by the idea that plants could help create a world prepared to face any disease.
With no heating and plugs on the ceiling, but a beautiful view of Cap-Rouge, the team experimented with plants, testing their potential to disrupt the traditional approach to vaccines and therapeutics. This was the beginning of Medicago.
A turning point
Two years later, a scientist and a businessman incorporated the company and we opened our first lab, putting the research on plant-based therapeutics to the test. We started with the alfalfa plant, our namesake (called Medicago sativa in Latin) and known for its robustness and adaptability principles rooted in our culture even today. In the early 2000s, Medicago sowed the seeds of what it would become: we grew our leadership team of inspirational experts and switched to using N. benthamiana plants. This was a turning point for us. This plant species, native to Australia, were increasingly used in laboratories around the world because of the ease with which they could host foreign genetic material. It allowed us to create proteins faster.
From then on, we applied our capabilities to other health threats, showcasing the possibilities of plant-based therapeutics:
- In 2009, we produced a swine flu (H1N1) vaccine candidate in 19 days
- In 2012, we manufactured 10 million doses of the H1N1 vaccine candidate for the U.S. Defence Advanced Research Project Agency (DARPA) in one calendar month
- In 2015, following the Ebola outbreak in West Africa, we produced a research-grade anti-Ebola antibody cocktail for the U.S. Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA)
Medicago has come a long way from the garage in Cap-Rouge. Within 20+ years, we have grown into a diverse and innovative team of more than 500 people, with two manufacturing sites, and a history of pandemic responses. The positive and productive partnerships we have forged with universities, academic researchers and governments, underscore the possibilities for our award-winning technology and will remain a pivotal part of our journey and evolution. Despite our humble beginnings, Medicago is a leader in developing plant-based therapeutics, and we are committed to helping to protect health.