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Medicines from plants
Date:5/26/2011

This release is available in German.

Medicines from plants one thinks of herbal teas or valerian drops. However, that has nothing in common with what the researchers at the Fraunhofer Institute for Molecular Biology and Applied Ecology IME in Aachen, Germany, are doing. They use plants to produce biopharmaceuticals. Those are proteins that, unlike many other medications, cannot be chemically produced.

Biologically produced medications, such as recombinant insulin or therapeutic antibodies to fight cancer, have become indispensable. Plants are particularly suitable for producing complex active substances. The reason is that these substances can be produced inexpensively and on a large scale in plants. Compared to producing them in animal cells, plants have the advantage that they grow quickly, are easy to look after and can be protected well against damaging influences.

Precisely controlled raising of plants

Tobacco was the plant of choice. Dr. Jrgen Drossard explains the reason: Tobacco has long been a very interesting plant for molecular biologists. It is easy to modify, meaning a foreign gene coding for the pharmaceutical protein can be introduced. In addition, a lot of biomass grows quickly and therefore a greater quantity of the desired proteins is also produced. The active substances must be absolutely safe. It is for this reason that the requirements both for growing the plants and for the processes and equipment for the preparations are particularly high. The researchers from Aachen passed the stringent tests of the supervisory and approval authorities for both. The tobacco plants are protected from all external influences and grown under precisely controlled conditions. We practically grow them on sterile substrates. And fertilization with manure is absolutely out of the question, of course, says Dr. Thomas Rademacher
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Contact: Dr. Stefan Schillberg
stefan.schillberg@ime.fraunhofer.de
49-241-608-511-050
Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft
Source:Eurekalert  

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