Quebec Science story strikes Green Gold

Quebec Science story strikes Green Gold

Award winning writer outlines the pharmaceutic potential of plants


Montreal May 27, 2016 — Canada’s development of a vaccine to fight Ebola in 2014 represented a major contribution in global health research, but no less remarkable have been the implications of putting this innovation into clinical practice. Government health care authorities turned to a Quebec firm, Medicago, which is among the leaders in turning plants into living pharmaceutical factories. In this case the firm employed a version of tobacco that was altered to express the vaccine’s essential proteins in its leaves, which could be quickly processed for rapid manufacture and distribution of the medicine.


This approach to drug production promises to overcome a key obstacle facing health care providers, which is the significant delay between the identification of a viral threat and the ability to turn out sufficient volumes of a targeted vaccine in time to prevent a population-wide outbreak. Quebéc Science science writer Marine Corniou described how this and many other challenges in drug development are being tackled with the help of “moleculture”, literally cultivating active compounds within plants. In this way, the output of vaccine compound can be accelerated for much quicker distribution.


Her feature story on this subject, “L’or Vert des Pharmas”, is now being honoured with this year’s Sanofi Pasteur Medal of Excellence in Health Research Journalism.


Award judges were struck by Corniou’s engaging account of this innovative technology, which is new even to informed observers of science and medicine. CHR President Patricia Guyda is also among those who were surprised by the significant medical potential associated with the humblest of plants. “It can be easy for some people to focus on the many unknowns associated with processes around working with bacteria or GMOs, but we can’t let those concerns overshadow the promise that also comes with them,” she insists. “Marine has given us a valuable overview of just how significant that promise can be in the field of human health.”


CHR launched the Sanofi Pasteur Medal of Excellence in Health Research Journalism in 1995, and administers the selection process. Sponsored by Sanofi Pasteur Ltd., Canada's premier vaccine company, the inaugural medal recipient was Globe & Mail science reporter Stephen Strauss for his longstanding contribution to promoting public awareness of science. Other recent awardees include Ivan Semeniuk of the Globe & Mail, Mark Witten for his work in Homemakers magazine and Hannah Hoag for an article in the Montreal Gazette.


“As a company that is built on nearly a century of science, Sanofi Pasteur is pleased to be associated with this prestigious award that recognizes excellence in science journalism,” says Maggie Wang Maric, Head of Toronto Hub Communications, Sanofi Pasteur.


As part of the award, Corniou will receive a plaque and a $2,500 bursary on June 4, 2016, during the Canadian Science Writers’ Association annual general meeting at the University of Guelph.


Canadians for Health Research (CHR) is a nonprofit organization committed to promoting the stability and quality of Canadian health research.  It fosters communication between health researchers, the government and the Canadian public, and publishes a quarterly magazine entitled Future Health.  For more information, or to become a member, please visit the CHR website at


About Sanofi


Sanofi, a global healthcare leader, discovers, develops and distributes therapeutic solutions focused on patients' needs. Sanofi has core strengths in diabetes solutions, human vaccines, innovative drugs, consumer healthcare, emerging markets, animal health and Genzyme. Sanofi is listed in Paris (EURONEXT: SAN) and in New York (NYSE: SNY).


Sanofi Pasteur, the vaccines division of Sanofi, provides more than 1 billion doses of vaccine each year, making it possible to immunize more than 500 million people across the globe. A world leader in the vaccine industry, Sanofi Pasteur produces a portfolio of high quality vaccines that match its areas of expertise and meet public health demand. The company's heritage, to create vaccines that protect life, dates back more than a century. Sanofi Pasteur is the largest company entirely dedicated to vaccines. Every day, the company invests more than EUR 1 million in research and development. For more information, please visit: or


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Tim Lougheed                                                Maggie Wang Meric              

CHR Chair                                                      Head of Toronto Hub Communications

(613) 979-7227                                              Sanofi Pasteur Limited                  Toronto, Ontario

                                                                        (416) 667-2955