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Biotechnol Adv. 2009 Nov-Dec;27(6):879-94. doi: 10.1016/j.biotechadv.2009.07.002. Epub 2009 Jul 30.

The production of biopharmaceuticals in plant systems.

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  • 1Institute of Microbiology, ETH Zurich, Wolfgang-Pauli Strasse 10, CH-8093 Z├╝rich, Switzerland.


Biopharmaceuticals present the fastest growing segment in the pharmaceutical industry, with an ever widening scope of applications. Whole plants as well as contained plant cell culture systems are being explored for their potential as cheap, safe, and scalable production hosts. The first plant-derived biopharmaceuticals have now reached the clinic. Many biopharmaceuticals are glycoproteins; as the Golgi N-glycosylation machinery of plants differs from the mammalian machinery, the N-glycoforms introduced on plant-produced proteins need to be taken into consideration. Potent systems have been developed to change the plant N-glycoforms to a desired or even superior form compared to the native mammalian N-glycoforms. This review describes the current status of biopharmaceutical production in plants for industrial applications. The recent advances and tools which have been utilized to generate glycoengineered plants are also summarized and compared with the relevant mammalian systems whenever applicable.

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