Powerful Anti-Inflammatory Medicine Grown from Tobacco Plants


In a research paper released by BMC Biotechnology, scientists have reported that they were able to successfully grow a very strong anti-inflammatory medicine using genetically altered tobacco plants. The creation of this medicine, Interleukin-10 (IL-10), is typically a very labor intensive and expensive process.

The study, which was led by Professor Mario Pezzotti, set out to create transgenetic tobacco plants, which had a high enough level of IL-10 for its leaves to be used raw in animal studies and could be used without requiring excessive purification.

One of the reasons that IL-10 was chosen was because of its potential to treat Type 1 Diabetes. It is postulated that oral introduction of IL-10 offers several advantages over the traditional in vitro application. The scientists wish to use IL-10 in animal feeding experiments, which is why it is so important for the leaves to contain a high level of IL-10.

This is not the first time this group of scientists have experimented with Transgentic tobacco plants, with a previous study successfully growing an enzyme called GAD65. Unfortunately, while successful, the level of GAD65 found in the tobacco plants was very low, so it could not be used in an animal feeding experiment.

The scientists plan to administer a combination of GAD65 and IL-10 orally to test its effectiveness at treating Type 1 Diabetes.

More Information:

Interleukin-10 is classified as a cytokine, which is a special type of signaling molecule that is used to help cells communicate. In the body, it appears to serves two main functions, which is to inhibit cytokine production and inhibit some of the functions of macrophanges during T-Cell activation.

The result of this is that IL-10 inhibits inflammation caused by T-Cells, which are white blood cells used by the body to fight infection. T-Cells serve many positive functions and inflammation is often one of them, because it is how the body fights infection. However, it can also often have a negative effect on the body and some diseases, like cancer, use inflammation to their advantage.

The study was funded by Pharma-Planta, which is a European organization whose goal it is to develop clinical grade pharmaceuticals in plants. The ability to grow clinical grade pharmaceuticals offers many advantages over traditional methods, such as the ability to quickly and cost effectively increase production as demand for a specific drug grows. This is especially important for developing nations, who might not have the resources for an expensive biochemistry facility. Often, the purification process is much simpler when dealing with pharmaceuticals grown from plants.

For more information about the study, including a downloadable PDF, visit BioMed Central

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