Potential Plant-Made Pharmaceuticals

Product Definition Examples
Antibodies Specialized proteins of the immune system that initiate the body's defense response Specific antibodies could be developed to fight cancer, HIV-AIDS, hepatitis, malaria, dental caries, and other diseases.
Antigens (vaccines) Compounds that stimulate the production of antibodies that protect against disease Plant-made vaccines are currently under development for protection against cholera, diarrhea (Norwalk virus), and hepatitis B.
Enzymes Proteins that catalyze biochemical reactions Enzymes could be used both to treat and to diagnose disease. For example, lipase is an enzyme that breaks down dietary fats and is used to treat the symptoms of cystic fibrosis and other diseases.
Hormones Chemical messengers active at low concentrations and produced in specialized cells Insulin is produced in the pancreas and helps regulate sugar metabolism. Diabetics with insulin deficiencies must replace it via shots or pumps.
Structural proteins Proteins that provide structural support to cells or tissues Collagen is a structural protein found in animal connective tissues and used in cosmetics.
Anti-disease agents A wide variety of proteins The anti-infection agents interferon and lactoferrin, and aprotinin (to control blood loss during surgery) have been engineered in plants.

Information compiled from Canadian Food Inspection Service (2001), Hathaway (2002), Ohlrogge and Chrispeels (2003), and the web sites of the Biotechnology Industry Organization (http://www.bio.org/pmp/), Meristem Therapeutics (http://www.meristem-therapeutics.com/GB/intro.htm), and Prodigene (http://www.prodigene.com).

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