DFB Pharmaceuticals, the private investment group that owns Phyton, announced Marr's promotion last month, also outlining the firm’s strategy.
It said, “While the company will continue to prioritize its high-value API business, under Marr’s leadership, it will concentrate on strengthening its role as a top CDMO.”
DFB CEO Paul Dorman said, “As Phyton Biotech continues to build its business and broaden its offerings to better serve its global customers, we needed to bring its international operations together under a single point of leadership.
"We are confident that Colin’s extensive experience as a veteran biotechnology executive and his vision will be tremendous assets to Phyton Biotech and that under his leadership, the company will continue to be a growing and successful CDMO enterprise," Doman said.
In November, Phyton received a $400,000 grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to fund the research and development of an alternative method of producing the malaria drug active pharmaceutical ingredient (API) artemisinin.
The grant will fund a 12-month pilot project to develop a way of making the API directly from plant cell cultures.
Plant cell fermentation
Phyton’s approach to API production is based on the culturing of cells harvested from source plants.
For the production of paclitaxel, for example, Phyton uses undifferentiated cells from the Pacific yew tree Taxus brevifolia. The cells were screened to identify high producing lines which were then grown in culture.
The European Directorate for the Quality of Medicines (EDQM) granted Phyton a Certificate of suitability to European Pharmacopeia (CEP) for paclitaxel made using plant cell fermentation in 2012.
Phyton claims to produce 500kg of paclitaxel each year at its facility in Vancouver.