Author(s): Twyman RM, Schillberg S, Fischer R
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Abstract Many of our 'small-molecule-drugs' are natural products from plants, or are synthetic compounds based on molecules found naturally in plants. However, the vast majority of the protein therapeutics (or biopharmaceuticals) we use are from animal or human sources, and are produced commercially in microbial or mammalian bioreactor systems. Over the last few years, it has become clear that plants have great potential for the production of human proteins and other protein-based therapeutic entities. Plants offer the prospect of inexpensive biopharmaceutical production without sacrificing product quality or safety, and following the success of several plant-derived technical proteins, the first therapeutic products are now approaching the market. In this review, the different plant-based production systems are discussed and the merits of transgenic plants are evaluated compared with other platforms. A detailed discussion is provided of the development issues that remain to be addressed before plants become an acceptable mainstream production technology. The many different proteins that have already been produced using plants are described, and a sketch of the current market and the activities of the key players is provided. Despite the currently unclear regulatory framework and general industry inertia, the benefits of plant-derived pharmaceuticals are now bringing the prospect of inexpensive veterinary and human medicines closer than ever before.
This article was published in Expert Opin Emerg Drugs
and referenced in Agrotechnology