Molecular Farming

Molecular farming
One of the current major challenge is the provision of safe, efficacious and affordable pharmaceuticals on a global level for the treatment and prevention of disease. Recombinant pharmaceuticals are the fastest growing class of novel medicine with monoclonal antibodies, cytokines and blood products as major drivers. Many of these novel protein and peptide drugs cannot be produced by classical chemistry or microbial fermentation. The use of transgenic plants or plant cell cultures for the production of recombinant proteins with high value is called molecular farming (MF) and is a promising alternative for conventional production systems such as animal cell lines and microbial cultures. Plants represent versatile expression systems for a wide variety of recombinant proteins, as they allow:

  • Rapid and economical production scale-up

  • Correct folding, assembly and posttranslational modification of complex proteins

  • Safe production, plants are not infected by potential human pathogens, e.g. prions or viruses.

The first recombinant plant-derived vaccine for veterinary use was licensed in 2006, and several plant-produced pharmaceuticals are now in clinical trials and approaching commercial release within the next few years, mostly in the US. This is where plants stand today, at the dawn of product approval for human and animal therapeutics.