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Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Planting Drugs in Corn

The team of scientists from Canada and Australia were able to grow a rare genetic disease drugs in the corn crop. A new breakthrough in the field of healthcare offers a cheaper way to shift the high-cost treatment that claimed hundreds of thousands of dollars per year for each patient.

The move also marks a new thing in the field of molecular farming. Later, the drug results in a complex biotechnology can be mass produced in the plant rather than in the factory.

"Our GMO corn engineered to synthesize alpha-L-iduronidase, an enzyme that is used to treat mucopolysaccharidosis I," said the scientists on Friday, September 21, 2012.

Mucopolysaccharidosis I (MPS I) is a disease that causes progressive damage to the heart, brain, and other organs. This disease has the potential to weaken the body condition of the sufferer.
Breakthrough technique lets scientists grow drugs on your corn. (Picture from: http://io9.com/)
The study, published in the journal Nature Communications is still at an early stage and the drug-producing corn plants harvested yet to be tested clinically. "Treatment with these methods take years to reach the market," said the scientist.

However, research led by a team of scientists from Simon Fraser University, Canada, is a significant step forward because it shows you how to produce molecules that can be accepted by the human immune system without causing harmful side effects.

MPS I is one of dozens of lysosomal storage disorders. Together with Fabry disease and Gaucher, MPS I can be treated with enzyme replacement therapy. Treatment of this disease previously handled by large companies such as Genzyme and Shire.

The production cost of enzyme replacement drug is very expensive because it must be made in mammalian cell culture are placed in stainless tanks. In the case of MPS I, treatment with atdurazyme -one-enzyme replacement drug- from Genzyme and BioMarin cost U.S. $ 300 thousand a year for the kids and much more expensive for adults.

"Transgenic plants could be an alternative cost-effective and safe," said the researchers. Several large companies have been looking for ways to make the drug from the protein complex in plants, but molecular farming has not produced commercial products.

The closest drug product for Gaucher disease was manufactured by companies Israel Protalix BioTherapeutics and Pfizer. The drug is produced in carrot cell culture -not in all parts of the plant- and has been approved for sale in the United States in May. *** [REUTERS | MAHARDIKA SATRIA HADI | KORAN TEMPO 4006]
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