Clive & Vera Ramaciotti Facility for Producing Pharmaceuticals in Plants

The Clive and Vera Ramaciotti Facility for Producing Pharmaceuticals in Plants (CVRF-PPP) is aimed at refining the conditions to produce peptide pharmaceuticals in plants and the scale-up of their production.

The new drugs will be incorporated into novel plant products such as seeds, medicinal teas and foods. It offers the potential to dramatically reduce the cost and increase availability of next-generation medicines. This is particularly attractive to developing countries where drugs for treatment of diseases such as HIV/AIDS are available but prohibitively expensive for most people. It will be possible to make a medicinal tea from modified plant leaves or simply swallow a ‘biopill’ seed from a locally-grown plant.  

One promising application of the technology concerns a peptide extracted from cone snails. It has been shown to be around 100 times more potent than gabapentin, a medication currently used by millions of people to treat pain associated with nerve damage, and is free of the side effects associated with drugs like morphine.

It is expected that plant-produced pharmaceuticals will be approved for widespread use as soon as 2025. The technology could have considerable positive impacts on patients suffering cancer, cardiovascular disease, multiple sclerosis and pain.

The facility’s mass spectrometry equipment and expert staff are available for assistance with plant-based peptide production and general consultation.


The core capabilities of the CVRF-PPP center around the cutting edge quantitative capability of the SCIEX QTRAP 6500+ LC-MS/MS instrument with UPLC, capable of achieving ultra-low limits of quantitation below 1 picogram per mL and with linear response spanning 6 orders of magnitude. This capability, in combination with automated sample extraction via a SPEX SamplePrep 2010 Geno/Grinder, supports high-throughput quantitation in biological matrices such as blood plasma and tissues, and high throughput screening of plant matter to support design of gene constructs.

The CVRF-PPP pipeline is also equipped with three controlled-environment spaces for plant cultivation with state of the art lighting that hastens maturation of plant material producing peptides of interest.

The facility was made possible through a generous $1 million Ramaciotti Biomedical Research Award from the Clive and Vera Ramaciotti Foundations and trustee Perpetual, which is shared with Professor Craik’s collaborator, Professor Marilyn Anderson from La Trobe University.