Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Producing medicines in plant seeds

16.01.2007
Using plants to produce useful proteins could be an inexpensive alternative to current medicine production methods. Researchers from the Flanders Interuniversity Institute for Biotechnology (VIB) at Ghent University have succeeded in producing in plant seeds proteins that have a very strong resemblance to antibodies.

They have also demonstrated that these antibody variants are just as active as the whole antibodies that occur naturally in humans. By virtue of their particular action, antibodies are very useful for therapeutic and diagnostic applications. From this research, it is now also clear that these kinds of antibody variants can be used in medical applications and that it is possible to produce them in the seeds of plants, which can have enormous advantages over conventional production methods.

Production of biotech medicines

A large number of today’s medicines are made with the aid of biotechnology (and this number should only grow in the future). To do this, scientists use genetically modified bacteria, yeasts, or animal cells that are able to produce human proteins. These proteins are then purified and administered as medicines. Examples of such proteins are antibodies, which can be used, for instance, in the treatment of cancer. The conventional methods for producing antibodies work well, but they are expensive and have a limited production capacity. The high costs are primarily due to the need for well-equipped production labs and to the labor-intensive upkeep of the animal cells, which are needed as production units.

Plants: a possible alternative?

For a number of years now, the VIB researchers in Ghent - Bart Van Droogenbroeck, Ann Depicker and Geert De Jaeger- have been searching for ways to have plants produce useful proteins efficiently. Plants do offer a lot of advantages over conventional production methods. Because production with plants doesn’t require expensive high-tech laboratories, scientists anticipate that, by working with plants, production costs will be 10 to 100 times lower. Another important advantage is that large-scale production is possible without having to make additional investments in expensive fermentors.

A good yield guaranteed

Several years ago, Geert De Jaeger and his colleagues succeeded in achieving a high yield of an antibody variant in plants, which had been very difficult to do up to that time. The trick the researchers used was to modify the plants in such a way that they would produce the antibody variant in their seeds. With their special technique, the scientists succeeded in producing seeds in which the desired protein is good for more than one third of the total protein amount. This is a huge proportion compared to other systems - normally, scientists succeed in replacing only 1% of the plant’s proteins by the desired protein.

Plant seeds are especially attractive as production units. In addition to a high production capacity, they offer other important advantages over other parts of the plant. The seeds can be stored for a long time without losing the produced protein’s effectiveness, so that a reserve can always be kept on hand. This means that the proteins can be isolated from the seeds at the moment that they are actually needed. With production in leaves, for example - or with conventional production methods - such lengthy storage is not possible: the protein must be isolated immediately after production. So, production in plant seeds provides the clear advantage of timely processing.

High production of an efficient antibody variant

The antibody variant that has been produced by Geert De Jaeger and his team has a very simple structure and has only one binding place for a particular substance. Bart Van Droogenbroeck and his colleagues, under the direction of Ann Depicker, are now showing that it is also possible to produce more complex antibody variants in large quantities in the seeds of the Arabidopsis plant. Over 10% of the proteins in the seeds of these plants are the desired antibody variant. As is the case with whole antibodies, these more complex antibody variants have two binding places for a specified substance. This close similarity to whole antibodies makes these antibody variants extremely useful for therapeutic and diagnostic applications.

However, the production of proteins in plants is completed in a different way than in humans. Therefore, to be certain that this different completion process does not affect the effectiveness of the potential medicine; the scientists have subjected the action of the antibody variant to an exhaustive battery of tests. These laboratory tests have shown that the antibody variants produced in plants are just as effective as whole human antibodies in protecting animal cells against infection with the Hepatitis A virus.

This is a significant step forward in making protein production in plants a real alternative to current production methods.

Sooike Stoops | alfa
Further information:
http://www.vib.be

More articles from Agricultural and Forestry Science:

nachricht Trees and climate change: Faster growth, lighter wood
14.08.2018 | Technische Universität München

nachricht Animals and fungi enhance the performance of forests
01.08.2018 | Deutsches Zentrum für integrative Biodiversitätsforschung (iDiv) Halle-Jena-Leipzig

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 interactive machine learning tool makes car designs more aerodynamic

Scientists develop first tool to use machine learning methods to compute flow around interactively designable 3D objects. Tool will be presented at this year’s prestigious SIGGRAPH conference.

When engineers or designers want to test the aerodynamic properties of the newly designed shape of a car, airplane, or other object, they would normally model...

Im Focus: Robots as 'pump attendants': TU Graz develops robot-controlled rapid charging system for e-vehicles

Researchers from TU Graz and their industry partners have unveiled a world first: the prototype of a robot-controlled, high-speed combined charging system (CCS) for electric vehicles that enables series charging of cars in various parking positions.

Global demand for electric vehicles is forecast to rise sharply: by 2025, the number of new vehicle registrations is expected to reach 25 million per year....

Im Focus: The “TRiC” to folding actin

Proteins must be folded correctly to fulfill their molecular functions in cells. Molecular assistants called chaperones help proteins exploit their inbuilt folding potential and reach the correct three-dimensional structure. Researchers at the Max Planck Institute of Biochemistry (MPIB) have demonstrated that actin, the most abundant protein in higher developed cells, does not have the inbuilt potential to fold and instead requires special assistance to fold into its active state. The chaperone TRiC uses a previously undescribed mechanism to perform actin folding. The study was recently published in the journal Cell.

Actin is the most abundant protein in highly developed cells and has diverse functions in processes like cell stabilization, cell division and muscle...

Im Focus: Lining up surprising behaviors of superconductor with one of the world's strongest magnets

Scientists have discovered that the electrical resistance of a copper-oxide compound depends on the magnetic field in a very unusual way -- a finding that could help direct the search for materials that can perfectly conduct electricity at room temperatur

What happens when really powerful magnets--capable of producing magnetic fields nearly two million times stronger than Earth's--are applied to materials that...

Im Focus: World record: Fastest 3-D tomographic images at BESSY II

The quality of materials often depends on the manufacturing process. In casting and welding, for example, the rate at which melts solidify and the resulting microstructure of the alloy is important. With metallic foams as well, it depends on exactly how the foaming process takes place. To understand these processes fully requires fast sensing capability. The fastest 3D tomographic images to date have now been achieved at the BESSY II X-ray source operated by the Helmholtz-Zentrum Berlin.

Dr. Francisco Garcia-Moreno and his team have designed a turntable that rotates ultra-stably about its axis at a constant rotational speed. This really depends...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

Within reach of the Universe

08.08.2018 | Event News

A journey through the history of microscopy – new exhibition opens at the MDC

27.07.2018 | Event News

2018 Work Research Conference

25.07.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

'Building up' stretchable electronics to be as multipurpose as your smartphone

14.08.2018 | Information Technology

During HIV infection, antibody can block B cells from fighting pathogens

14.08.2018 | Life Sciences

First study on physical properties of giant cancer cells may inform new treatments

14.08.2018 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>