Posted: June 3, 2012 by Wildcat in Uncategorized
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By making sophisticated medicines dirt cheap, pharming was going to open new doors. “How about, even, like, washing yourself in an antibody against Staph aureus?” Ma suggests. “You can start to wonder about where you could use antibodies in new situations. They could replace antibiotics completely.”

We are not there yet, of course. But the pharming revolution is finally getting under way. Last month, for the first time, a plant-produced protein drug was approved in the US, and many more are in the pipeline. The revolution is not happening in quite in the way the pioneers envisaged, though.

Part of the reason why pharming has been so slow to take off is technological. Lots of medicines are already extracted from plants, of course, but these are usually small molecules naturally produced in large quantities. Getting plants to make foreign proteins such as antibodies requires genetic engineering, which is a slow, hit-and-miss process. First you have to add the required genes to cells, then grow plants from them, which takes months.

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