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N.C. Scientists Plant Plants to be Manufacturing Plants
Date:6/21/2011

RESEARCH TRIANGLE PARK, N.C., June 21, 2011 /PRNewswire/ -- A new crop of life-science companies is putting North Carolina on the map with some of the world's most efficient manufacturing plants.

The companies are unique because plants are their plants – living bioreactors producing therapeutics, diagnostics and other valuable biological products.

In fact, new opportunities like these, in biotech-enhanced agricultural products, will be the focus of a panel discussion at the 2011 BIO International Convention at the Washington, D.C., Convention Center. The session, "Looking Beyond Row Crops: What's Next for Agricultural Biotechnology?" on Tuesday, June 28, at 2 p.m. in Room 159AB, will be moderated by Gwyn Riddick, vice president, Agricultural Biotechnology at the North Carolina Biotechnology Center.*  

North Carolina is a leader in plant-based medicines – new creations from its renowned research labs and greenhouses and new markets for the herbal medicines of its Native American and Appalachian heritage.

Drs. Mansukh Wani and Monroe Wall of RTI International* in Research Triangle Park (RTP), for example, developed Taxol from the Pacific yew tree, and camptothecin from the Chinese "happy tree" – key discoveries in chemotherapy of the 1990s.

That helped establish North Carolina as a seedbed of plant-based therapeutics and diagnostics. But today many Tar Heel scientists are producing the therapeutic agents within the plants' cells. For example:

  • Medicago* is about to open its unique $42 million RTP factory for producing vaccines in tobacco leaves.
    The company's proprietary technology for growing virus-like-particles in tobacco leaves is designed to develop almost any vaccine more quickly and inexpensively than traditional methods, and will also work for antibodies and recombinant proteins.
  • Biolex Therapeutics, in Pittsboro, N.C., is growing medicines in l
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SOURCE North Carolina Biotechnology Center
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