- RICHLAND, Wash. - Plants
have been used in medical treatments throughout human history, but researchers
at the Department of Energy's Pacific Northwest National Laboratory are
taking a new approach to plants as pharmaceutical components. They are
genetically modifying plants to produce human blood proteins and tissue
- These blood-clotting agents could lead to safer and less
expensive treatments for hemophiliacs and an alternative way of sealing
wounds. Pacific Northwest researchers have produced two blood factors that
are used to treat most patients with blood clotting disorders.
- Even with screening programs some viral products such
as HIV, Epstein-Barr, Hepatitis B and C and even the flu, can be transferred
in blood products. Using plants to produce human blood proteins eliminates
the possibility of transmitting disease along with lifesaving treatments.
- "In addition to the obvious health benefits, we
expect the cost of synthesizing blood factors in transgenic or genetically
modified plants to be 10 times cheaper than current methods," said
Brian Hooker, a biochemical engineer at Pacific Northwest. "And, unlike
human blood donors or mammalian cells, plants provide a stable production
source and yield much higher amounts of the desired blood factors."
- Using genetic engineering technology, Pacific Northwest
researchers are transplanting applicable human genes into tobacco plants
and producing blood factors. Patents are pending on the production and
composition of plant-derived human blood coagulation factors. Pacific Northwest
researchers have produced coagulation factor VIII, which is critical to
hemophilia therapies, as well as factor XIII and a substance called thrombin
which are clotting enzymes that aid in healing wounds and offer an alternative
to sutures and other surgical sealants.
- Pacific Northwest has funded this research to date but
is interested in teaming with pharmaceutical partners to commercialize
the blood factor technology and other plant-based pharmaceutical products.
- Commercialization manager Daniel Anderson says it likely
will be several years before the blood products will be available for humans.
Anderson notes Pacific Northwest researchers currently are using a similar
technique to grow valuable industrial
enzymes in non-edible portions of common agricultural crops.
- They have developed a method to get the desired proteins
to express or grow in specific areas of a plant, which can result in two
profitable crops in one plant - for instance, potatoes could produce food
and cellulases, which are used to produce ethanol.
- See related news release at <http://www.pnl.gov/news/news.htmwww.pnl.gov/news/news.htm.
- Business inquiries on this or other PNNL technologies
should be directed to 1-888-375-PNNL or e-mail: <mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org@pnl.gov
- Pacific Northwest is one of DOE's nine multiprogram national
laboratories and conducts research in the fields of environment, energy,
health sciences and national security. Battelle, based in Columbus, Ohio,
has operated Pacific Northwest for DOE since 1965.
- Contact: Susan Bauer <mailto:email@example.com@pnl.gov