Friday, August 21, 2009

Tobacco Can Be Useful, Are You Sure?

Smoking and tobacco have always been linked to unhealthy news. Smokers not only have the higher chance of getting heart disease, lung cancers, and other ailments, the secondhand smoke originated from them could also cause harmful effects to the people around them. Many studies have confirmed the claim.

However, an interesting finding by researchers from the University of Verona have found a healthy use for tobacco after they genetically bled modified plants containing a medicine that could stop Type-1 diabetes.

They published their findings on March 19, 2009 in the journal BMC Biotechnology and indicated out that they had produced tobacco plants containing a potent anti-inflammatory protein known as interleukin-10 (IL-10), which could help patients with insulin-dependent Type-1 diabetes and other autoimmune diseases.

Agrochemical companies such as Bayer and Syngenta have been searching ways to produce complex protein drugs in plants but the progress has been slow.

The new finding is believed to mark the latest advance in the emerging field of molecular farming that might offer an alternative way of producing biotech drugs and vaccines at a cost cheaper than traditional factory systems do.

The European researchers believe the antibody medicines and vaccines, which are produced in cell cultures inside stainless steel fermenters, could eventually be grown more efficiently in fields. This is because plants are the world's most cost-effective protein producers. They have studied several different plants around the world, but tobacco is their firm favorite.

The researchers’ work has drawn the attention from tobacco giant Philip Morris, which is supporting a conference on plant-based medicine in Verona in June 2009.

Meanwhile, Swedish biotech company Diamyd has already been testing a conventionally produced GAD65 vaccine against diabetes in clinical trials. On the other hand, Protalix plans to submit its drug for regulatory approval in the United States and Israel in the 4th quarter of 2009.

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