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Producing medicines in plant seeds

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 la
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Source:VIB, Flanders Interuniversity Institute of Biotechnology


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