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 Seeing on the Quick: New Insights into Active Vision in the Brain
15.08.2018 | Eberhard Karls Universität Tübingen

nachricht New Approach to Treating Chronic Itch
15.08.2018 | Universität Zürich

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: Unraveling the nature of 'whistlers' from space in the lab

A new study sheds light on how ultralow frequency radio waves and plasmas interact

Scientists at the University of California, Los Angeles present new research on a curious cosmic phenomenon known as "whistlers" -- very low frequency packets...

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...

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

Unraveling the nature of 'whistlers' from space in the lab

15.08.2018 | Physics and Astronomy

Diving robots find Antarctic winter seas exhale surprising amounts of carbon dioxide

15.08.2018 | Earth Sciences

Early opaque universe linked to galaxy scarcity

15.08.2018 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>