Researchers convinced of the benefits of plants
Convinced that the 250,000 known flowering plants and some that are yet to be discovered are potential treasure chests of benefits to health and beauty, Pierre Fabre has made research on plant substances a major focus of its activities. To the group, plants constitute a source of multidisciplinary scientific investigation, aimed at identifying original, plant-based active substances that could be used equally to produce drugs and dermo-cosmetics products.
PLANTS: INVESTIGATION SOURCES
An in-depth knowledge of plants
The discovery of a new, plant-based active substance involves an in-depth knowledge of the plant concerned. Our botanists study plants that may turn out to be of interest for therapeutic or cosmetic purposes. The plants used for development by the researchers are the result of multiple activities, combining chemistry, chemical taxonomy, epidemiology, high-throughput screening, as well as original observations or proposals from external partners. The supply of plants and plant samples and our research work are carried out in stuck adherence to regulations concerning access to biodiversity and its utilization. The plant samples required for R&D purposes are provided on contract by a supplier.
Pierre Fabre Laboratories own more 15,000 plant samples, i.e. the largest private collection in the world.
About 40% of our turnover is generated by products containing active substances derived from our plant stock.
Every year, between 3 and 5 new plant-based active substances and extracts are developed.
This results in the launch of 2 to 3 products a year based on active substances derived from this plant stock.
DISCOVERY OF A NEW ACTIVE SUBSTANCE
Validating potential activity
The activity of the molecules or extracts taken from a plant is investigated in preliminary research. Research trials to investigate biological activities are then carried out on the plant to validate this potential activity. Once the activity has been identified and confirmed, the next step is to determine the exact molecules or extracts of the plant that are responsible for this activity.
Parallel to this research and thanks to cutting-edge technology, it is possible to identify from among a large number of plants those that demonstrate activities resulting in the achievement of a treatment goal. These modern techniques are known as robotized, high-throughput screening and are used by the mixed service and research unit, a joint division formed by Pierre Fabre and the CNRS (National Center for Scientific Research) and located at the Pierre Fabre Research Center on the Oncopole campus in Toulouse.
ISOLATING AN ACTIVE SUBSTANCE
Guaranteeing the quality of plant-based extracts
The activity of a plant is supported by one or several molecules it contains. First of all, we have to identify these molecules and ensure that they are present in the plant extract we have obtained. We thus conduct research to isolate and identify the molecules responsible for the activity, then define an extraction process that will guarantee a constant content of active molecules for each batch produced. We finally validate an evaluation method that will make it possible to ensure the reproducibility of the quantity of molecules in the extracts produced for quality control purposes.
Identifying the plant that is richest in active molecules
Once the plant has been identified and the active substance it contains has been discovered, our agricultural researchers determine and select the variety of this plant that is richest in active molecules. They define the cultivation and harvesting methods to be implemented with the aim of optimizing the production of active substances. All these data are used as a basis for a set of specifications, which we apply at our agricultural production sites or which our agricultural partners are obliged to adhere to.