Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:


Human albumin from tobacco plants

Human serum albumin (HSA) is the intravenous protein most commonly used in the world for therapeutic ends.
It is employed to stabilise blood volume and to avoid risk of a heart attack, its administration in operating theatres being almost a daily occurrence. It is used for haemorrhages, burns, surgical operations or when the patient shows symptoms of malnutrition or dehydration, chronic infections and renal or liver illnesses. The annual consumption in Spain is about 10 tons but, at a worldwide level, the demand exceeds 500 tons.

Agricultural engineer, Alicia Fernández San Millán, has developed a novel technique in Spain - plastidial transformation, in order to produce, in a recombinant form, human albumin from tobacco plants. According to her PhD thesis, plastidial transformation is an economically viable alternative, as it enables increasing the levels of HSA by between 10 and a 100 times, compared to levels obtained by nuclear transformation.

The title of the PhD is: “Production of human serum albumin in tobacco plants by means of plastidial transformation”. It should be added that this novel technique, fruit of Ms Fernández San Millán’s PhD, has been patented at a world level and there is already a company interested in marketing it.

An efficacious and cheap alternative

Commercial albumin is currently extracted from blood, but the lack of sufficient reserves to cover all worldwide needs has instigated researchers to look for new formulae to multiply this protein. One of the methods most used has been the obtention of HSA from yeasts and mammal cells. However, their high market-place costs have meant that these methods are not competitive. While the price at the pharmacy of albumin produced using plasma is 4 euros per gram, that obtained from yeasts or mammal cells costs between 300 and 4,000 euros per gram. Another option worked on over recent years has been the production of albumin from vegetables, always using nuclear transformation.

The novelty in this research arises from the method of obtention of the HSA. The plastidial system enables the extraction of great quantities of albumin. With nuclear transformation, the maximum level obtained is 0.5% of the total soluble protein of the plant, while application of the plastidial system multiplies this percentage by fourteen (to 7%), reaching an average of 0.9 milligrams of HSA per gram of fresh leaf weight.

The key is the place where the gene in question is deposited. With the nuclear transformation method, it integrates into the DNA of the cell nucleus of the leaf and, thus, can only manage a small number of copies of the gene. With the plastidial system, on the other hand, the gene is introduced into the chloroplast, where photosynthesis takes place and where the genomes can multiply up to 10,000 times.

A property highly valued by the experts has to be added to these positive results: the production of albumin from plants using this technique does not involve the escape of genes through pollen transmission given that, with most crops under cultivation, the genome of the plastids is inherited maternally.

More biomass in tobacco plants

The tobacco plant is very easy to handle genetically and also it is great generator of biomass. The authoress of the thesis says that up to 100 tons of biomass per hectare can be obtained in optimum growth conditions. “Given that the protein is produced in the chloroplasts, the more the leaf biomass we have, the more albumin we can get”.

To date all the trials undertaken with tobacco plants have been with laboratory varieties. The aim is to do tests with commercial varieties. Laboratory plants are very small and, as a result, the quantity of albumin extracted is not sufficient. However, the commercial varieties of tobacco are some 30 times more productive in terms of biomass.

Despite the advantages demonstrated by the experts, there is still a long way to go. Involving, as it does, a protein that is intravenously injected into patients, it has to be thoroughly purified to eliminate any kind of contaminant. Moreover, it is necessary to assure that the protein obtained has an identical structure to the human one to guarantee that its functioning will be 100%.

Garazi Andonegi | alfa
Further information:

More articles from Agricultural and Forestry Science:

nachricht Forest Management Yields Higher Productivity through Biodiversity
14.10.2016 | Technische Universität München

nachricht Farming with forests
23.09.2016 | University of Illinois College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences (ACES)

All articles from Agricultural and Forestry Science >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: New 3-D wiring technique brings scalable quantum computers closer to reality

Researchers from the Institute for Quantum Computing (IQC) at the University of Waterloo led the development of a new extensible wiring technique capable of controlling superconducting quantum bits, representing a significant step towards to the realization of a scalable quantum computer.

"The quantum socket is a wiring method that uses three-dimensional wires based on spring-loaded pins to address individual qubits," said Jeremy Béjanin, a PhD...

Im Focus: Scientists develop a semiconductor nanocomposite material that moves in response to light

In a paper in Scientific Reports, a research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute describes a novel light-activated phenomenon that could become the basis for applications as diverse as microscopic robotic grippers and more efficient solar cells.

A research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) has developed a revolutionary, light-activated semiconductor nanocomposite material that can be used...

Im Focus: Diamonds aren't forever: Sandia, Harvard team create first quantum computer bridge

By forcefully embedding two silicon atoms in a diamond matrix, Sandia researchers have demonstrated for the first time on a single chip all the components needed to create a quantum bridge to link quantum computers together.

"People have already built small quantum computers," says Sandia researcher Ryan Camacho. "Maybe the first useful one won't be a single giant quantum computer...

Im Focus: New Products - Highlights of COMPAMED 2016

COMPAMED has become the leading international marketplace for suppliers of medical manufacturing. The trade fair, which takes place every November and is co-located to MEDICA in Dusseldorf, has been steadily growing over the past years and shows that medical technology remains a rapidly growing market.

In 2016, the joint pavilion by the IVAM Microtechnology Network, the Product Market “High-tech for Medical Devices”, will be located in Hall 8a again and will...

Im Focus: Ultra-thin ferroelectric material for next-generation electronics

'Ferroelectric' materials can switch between different states of electrical polarization in response to an external electric field. This flexibility means they show promise for many applications, for example in electronic devices and computer memory. Current ferroelectric materials are highly valued for their thermal and chemical stability and rapid electro-mechanical responses, but creating a material that is scalable down to the tiny sizes needed for technologies like silicon-based semiconductors (Si-based CMOS) has proven challenging.

Now, Hiroshi Funakubo and co-workers at the Tokyo Institute of Technology, in collaboration with researchers across Japan, have conducted experiments to...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>



Event News

#IC2S2: When Social Science meets Computer Science - GESIS will host the IC2S2 conference 2017

14.10.2016 | Event News

Agricultural Trade Developments and Potentials in Central Asia and the South Caucasus

14.10.2016 | Event News

World Health Summit – Day Three: A Call to Action

12.10.2016 | Event News

Latest News

Resolving the mystery of preeclampsia

21.10.2016 | Health and Medicine

Stanford researchers create new special-purpose computer that may someday save us billions

21.10.2016 | Information Technology

From ancient fossils to future cars

21.10.2016 | Materials Sciences

More VideoLinks >>>