Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Tobacco promising factory for biopharmaceuticals

12.08.2004


Recovery, purification of therapeutic proteins an economic and scientific challenge

The economics of producing biopharmaceuticals from transgenic plants such as tobacco is still a roadblock to producing large quantities of urgently needed medicines, especially for people in underdeveloped nations. Chenming (Mike) Zhang is testing a variety of ways to economically recover recombinant proteins from transgenic tobacco using different protein separation techniques.

Zhang, an assistant professor in the Department of Biological Systems Engineering (BSE) in the College of Engineering at Virginia Tech, is working with a team of three Ph.D. students to develop transgenic tobacco plants able to express recombinant proteins economically. Recombinant proteins are potential therapeutic agents for treating human and animal diseases and creating new vaccines. Plant-made vaccines are especially beneficial because plants are free of human diseases, reducing the cost to screen for viruses and bacterial toxins.



"Recombinant protein production from transgenic plants is challenging, not just from the molecular biology aspect of creating high expression plant lines, but also from the engineering aspect of recovering and purifying the proteins economically -- the importance of which cannot be overlooked," Zhang said.

Recombinant proteins are proteins expressed by a host other than their native hosts. For example, if the gene for human growth hormone is inserted into the genetic code of yeast (gene recombination), then the corresponding protein expressed in the yeast is called recombinant human growth hormone.

Zhang’s research starts with introducing the genes of interest into tobacco plants and then developing economical processes for recovering and purifying the expressed proteins. Relaxin, one of the proteins his team is studying, could potentially benefit patients with asthma, hay fever, and even cardiovascular disease.

Because most recombinant proteins are for therapeutic uses, they need to be highly purified to be safe for human use. Thus, once a protein is expressed, whether by transgenic tobacco or bacteria, the protein first needs to be recovered into liquid solutions before purification.

"Because of the high purity required, the purification is rigorous and not surprisingly, very expensive. Therefore, development of more economical techniques for protein purification is always an engineering challenge in order to lower the cost of therapeutic proteins or biopharmaceuticals," Zhang said.

Zhang uses tobacco in his research because it is a non-food crop and is well suited as a "factory" for recombinant protein production. The leafy green tobacco plant is relatively easy to alter genetically and produces thousands of seeds and a great deal of biomass. As a non-food crop, genetically manipulated tobacco will not pose a safety threat to products consumed by humans. "Since tobacco is neither a food nor a feed-crop, transgenic tobacco will not enter our food chain," Zhang said.

The research is funded by the Jeffress Memorial Trust and the Tobacco Initiative.

Zhang is the director of both the Protein Separation Laboratory and the Unit Operations Laboratory at Virginia Tech. The Protein Separation Laboratory supports research in protein expression and purification process development from transgenic plants and other expression systems. The Unit Operations Laboratory supports a course by the same name taught by Zhang in biological systems engineering. He is also affiliated with the Virginia Tech-Wake Forest University School of Biomedical Engineering and Sciences.

The College of Engineering Dean’s Award for Outstanding Assistant Professor was presented to Zhang in 2004. His nomination was based on his extraordinary level of activities and accomplishments in curriculum development and teaching, development of a viable research program, and his cooperative efforts with colleagues at Virginia Tech and around the nation.

Before coming to Virginia Tech in 2001, Zhang was a research and development scientist for two years at Covance Biotechnology Services (now Diosynth RTP) in Cary, N. C.

Zhang received his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in metallurgical physical chemistry from the University of Science and Technology in Beijing, China, in 1986 and 1991, respectively. He received a second master’s degree in physical and analytical chemistry in 1996 from Iowa State University as well as his Ph.D. in chemical engineering in 1999.

Karen Gilbert | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.vt.edu

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht The birth of a new protein
20.10.2017 | University of Arizona

nachricht Building New Moss Factories
20.10.2017 | Albert-Ludwigs-Universität Freiburg im Breisgau

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: Neutron star merger directly observed for the first time

University of Maryland researchers contribute to historic detection of gravitational waves and light created by event

On August 17, 2017, at 12:41:04 UTC, scientists made the first direct observation of a merger between two neutron stars--the dense, collapsed cores that remain...

Im Focus: Breaking: the first light from two neutron stars merging

Seven new papers describe the first-ever detection of light from a gravitational wave source. The event, caused by two neutron stars colliding and merging together, was dubbed GW170817 because it sent ripples through space-time that reached Earth on 2017 August 17. Around the world, hundreds of excited astronomers mobilized quickly and were able to observe the event using numerous telescopes, providing a wealth of new data.

Previous detections of gravitational waves have all involved the merger of two black holes, a feat that won the 2017 Nobel Prize in Physics earlier this month....

Im Focus: Smart sensors for efficient processes

Material defects in end products can quickly result in failures in many areas of industry, and have a massive impact on the safe use of their products. This is why, in the field of quality assurance, intelligent, nondestructive sensor systems play a key role. They allow testing components and parts in a rapid and cost-efficient manner without destroying the actual product or changing its surface. Experts from the Fraunhofer IZFP in Saarbrücken will be presenting two exhibits at the Blechexpo in Stuttgart from 7–10 November 2017 that allow fast, reliable, and automated characterization of materials and detection of defects (Hall 5, Booth 5306).

When quality testing uses time-consuming destructive test methods, it can result in enormous costs due to damaging or destroying the products. And given that...

Im Focus: Cold molecules on collision course

Using a new cooling technique MPQ scientists succeed at observing collisions in a dense beam of cold and slow dipolar molecules.

How do chemical reactions proceed at extremely low temperatures? The answer requires the investigation of molecular samples that are cold, dense, and slow at...

Im Focus: Shrinking the proton again!

Scientists from the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics, using high precision laser spectroscopy of atomic hydrogen, confirm the surprisingly small value of the proton radius determined from muonic hydrogen.

It was one of the breakthroughs of the year 2010: Laser spectroscopy of muonic hydrogen resulted in a value for the proton charge radius that was significantly...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

ASEAN Member States discuss the future role of renewable energy

17.10.2017 | Event News

World Health Summit 2017: International experts set the course for the future of Global Health

10.10.2017 | Event News

Climate Engineering Conference 2017 Opens in Berlin

10.10.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Terahertz spectroscopy goes nano

20.10.2017 | Information Technology

Strange but true: Turning a material upside down can sometimes make it softer

20.10.2017 | Materials Sciences

NRL clarifies valley polarization for electronic and optoelectronic technologies

20.10.2017 | Interdisciplinary Research

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>