Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Research and pharmaceuticals: EU ‘pharming’ solutions to major diseases

22.07.2004


A team of European researchers plans to perfect techniques for producing antibodies and vaccines, obtained from plants, to prevent and treat major human diseases, such as AIDS, rabies and TB. The idea is to use genetically modified (GM) crops eventually to produce plant-based pharmaceuticals. Pharma-Planta is a consortium of eleven European countries and South Africa which, thanks to €12 million in EU funding, plans to produce vaccines and other treatments for major diseases, such as HIV/AIDS, rabies and tuberculosis. The project, led by the Fraunhofer Institute for molecular biology and ecology in Aachen (Germany), with scientific co-ordination by St George’s Hospital Medical School in London (UK), hopes to start clinical trials by the end of the funding period in 2009.

“The development of new drugs derived from plants, made possible thanks to recent advances in plant genetics, can benefit from cross-disciplinary collaboration at European level” commented Research Commissioner Philippe Busquin about this EU project. “The consortium of 39 research teams from across Europe and South Africa will combine expertise across disciplines, such as immunology and plant sciences, to offer real promise in this complex high-technology area.”

“Pharming”



Plant-based pharmaceutical production, or ‘pharming’, offers several advantages over traditional approaches. The current methods used to generate these types of treatments involve culturing cells or microorganisms, such as bacteria which are labour intensive, expensive and often only produce relatively small amounts of pharmaceuticals. But plants are inexpensive to grow and if “engineered” to contain a gene for a pharmaceutical product, they could produce large quantities of drugs or vaccines at low cost.

First concrete applications

The first product that might come out of the EU integrated project, possibly grown in maize, is likely to be an antibody that neutralises the AIDS virus. This could be incorporated for example, in a simple-to-apply microbicidal cream and used for blocking HIV transmission. Next would probably be a monoclonal antibody against rabies – still a major killer in the developing world and responsible for up to 70,000 deaths a year – which could be used after contracting the virus.

Checks and balances

The production of pharmaceuticals in GM plants would be subject to control by multiple regulatory agencies, including those governing the use of genetically modified organisms and those governing the production of drugs. Part of Pharma-Planta’s remit will also be to identify secure methods and places for production.

Although the consortium has yet to decide which plants to use, likely candidates include maize, tobacco and tomatoes. Plants possessing the desired proteins for producing so-called ‘immunotherapeutic bio-molecules’ – which can be found in high enough quantities in the seeds and harvested easily – will be given preference.

Fabio Fabbi | European Union
Further information:
http://www.europa.eu.int
http://www.pharma-planta.org

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Molecular Force Sensors
20.09.2017 | Max-Planck-Institut für Biochemie

nachricht Foster tadpoles trigger parental instinct in poison frogs
20.09.2017 | Veterinärmedizinische Universität Wien

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: Tiny lasers from a gallery of whispers

New technique promises tunable laser devices

Whispering gallery mode (WGM) resonators are used to make tiny micro-lasers, sensors, switches, routers and other devices. These tiny structures rely on a...

Im Focus: Ultrafast snapshots of relaxing electrons in solids

Using ultrafast flashes of laser and x-ray radiation, scientists at the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics (Garching, Germany) took snapshots of the briefest electron motion inside a solid material to date. The electron motion lasted only 750 billionths of the billionth of a second before it fainted, setting a new record of human capability to capture ultrafast processes inside solids!

When x-rays shine onto solid materials or large molecules, an electron is pushed away from its original place near the nucleus of the atom, leaving a hole...

Im Focus: Quantum Sensors Decipher Magnetic Ordering in a New Semiconducting Material

For the first time, physicists have successfully imaged spiral magnetic ordering in a multiferroic material. These materials are considered highly promising candidates for future data storage media. The researchers were able to prove their findings using unique quantum sensors that were developed at Basel University and that can analyze electromagnetic fields on the nanometer scale. The results – obtained by scientists from the University of Basel’s Department of Physics, the Swiss Nanoscience Institute, the University of Montpellier and several laboratories from University Paris-Saclay – were recently published in the journal Nature.

Multiferroics are materials that simultaneously react to electric and magnetic fields. These two properties are rarely found together, and their combined...

Im Focus: Fast, convenient & standardized: New lab innovation for automated tissue engineering & drug

MBM ScienceBridge GmbH successfully negotiated a license agreement between University Medical Center Göttingen (UMG) and the biotech company Tissue Systems Holding GmbH about commercial use of a multi-well tissue plate for automated and reliable tissue engineering & drug testing.

MBM ScienceBridge GmbH successfully negotiated a license agreement between University Medical Center Göttingen (UMG) and the biotech company Tissue Systems...

Im Focus: Silencing bacteria

HZI researchers pave the way for new agents that render hospital pathogens mute

Pathogenic bacteria are becoming resistant to common antibiotics to an ever increasing degree. One of the most difficult germs is Pseudomonas aeruginosa, a...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

“Lasers in Composites Symposium” in Aachen – from Science to Application

19.09.2017 | Event News

I-ESA 2018 – Call for Papers

12.09.2017 | Event News

EMBO at Basel Life, a new conference on current and emerging life science research

06.09.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Molecular Force Sensors

20.09.2017 | Life Sciences

Producing electricity during flight

20.09.2017 | Power and Electrical Engineering

Tiny lasers from a gallery of whispers

20.09.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>