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 One step closer to reality
20.04.2018 | Max-Planck-Institut für Entwicklungsbiologie

nachricht The dark side of cichlid fish: from cannibal to caregiver
20.04.2018 | 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: Spider silk key to new bone-fixing composite

University of Connecticut researchers have created a biodegradable composite made of silk fibers that can be used to repair broken load-bearing bones without the complications sometimes presented by other materials.

Repairing major load-bearing bones such as those in the leg can be a long and uncomfortable process.

Im Focus: Writing and deleting magnets with lasers

Study published in the journal ACS Applied Materials & Interfaces is the outcome of an international effort that included teams from Dresden and Berlin in Germany, and the US.

Scientists at the Helmholtz-Zentrum Dresden-Rossendorf (HZDR) together with colleagues from the Helmholtz-Zentrum Berlin (HZB) and the University of Virginia...

Im Focus: Gamma-ray flashes from plasma filaments

Novel highly efficient and brilliant gamma-ray source: Based on model calculations, physicists of the Max PIanck Institute for Nuclear Physics in Heidelberg propose a novel method for an efficient high-brilliance gamma-ray source. A giant collimated gamma-ray pulse is generated from the interaction of a dense ultra-relativistic electron beam with a thin solid conductor. Energetic gamma-rays are copiously produced as the electron beam splits into filaments while propagating across the conductor. The resulting gamma-ray energy and flux enable novel experiments in nuclear and fundamental physics.

The typical wavelength of light interacting with an object of the microcosm scales with the size of this object. For atoms, this ranges from visible light to...

Im Focus: Basel researchers succeed in cultivating cartilage from stem cells

Stable joint cartilage can be produced from adult stem cells originating from bone marrow. This is made possible by inducing specific molecular processes occurring during embryonic cartilage formation, as researchers from the University and University Hospital of Basel report in the scientific journal PNAS.

Certain mesenchymal stem/stromal cells from the bone marrow of adults are considered extremely promising for skeletal tissue regeneration. These adult stem...

Im Focus: Like a wedge in a hinge

Researchers lay groundwork to tailor drugs for new targets in cancer therapy

In the fight against cancer, scientists are developing new drugs to hit tumor cells at so far unused weak points. Such a “sore spot” is the protein complex...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

Invitation to the upcoming "Current Topics in Bioinformatics: Big Data in Genomics and Medicine"

13.04.2018 | Event News

Unique scope of UV LED technologies and applications presented in Berlin: ICULTA-2018

12.04.2018 | Event News

IWOLIA: A conference bringing together German Industrie 4.0 and French Industrie du Futur

09.04.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

Magnetic nano-imaging on a table top

20.04.2018 | Physics and Astronomy

Start of work for the world's largest electric truck

20.04.2018 | Interdisciplinary Research

Atoms may hum a tune from grand cosmic symphony

20.04.2018 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>