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Biotechnol J. 2013 Oct;8(10):1193-202. doi: 10.1002/biot.201300162. Epub 2013 Jul 15.

Plant-derived pharmaceuticals for the developing world.

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Cell and Systems Biology, University of Toronto, Toronto, Ontario, Canada; Cornell University, Ithaca, NY, USA.


Plant-produced vaccines and therapeutic agents offer enormous potential for providing relief to developing countries by reducing the incidence of infant mortality caused by infectious diseases. Vaccines derived from plants have been demonstrated to effectively elicit an immune response. Biopharmaceuticals produced in plants are inexpensive to produce, require fewer expensive purification steps, and can be stored at ambient temperatures for prolonged periods of time. As a result, plant-produced biopharmaceuticals have the potential to be more accessible to the rural poor. This review describes current progress with respect to plant-produced biopharmaceuticals, with a particular emphasis on those that target developing countries. Specific emphasis is given to recent research on the production of plant-produced vaccines toward human immunodeficiency virus, malaria, tuberculosis, hepatitis B virus, Ebola virus, human papillomavirus, rabies virus and common diarrheal diseases. Production platforms used to express vaccines in plants, including nuclear and chloroplast transformation, and the use of viral expression vectors, are described in this review. The review concludes by outlining the next steps for plant-produced vaccines to achieve their goal of providing safe, efficacious and inexpensive vaccines to the developing world.


Developing countries; Immune response; Plant production platforms; Plant-derived vaccines; Therapeutic proteins

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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