Research on plants to produce pharmaceutical drugs

I have got too lazy after I started using twitter. So instead of posting  news story in my blog I just updated my twitter @clinicalsearch about  Dr Josh Mylne from the Institute for Molecular Bioscience (IMB) at University of Queensland receiving research fund to support research on plants to produce pharmaceutical drugs

My first thoughts about the news was,  there is already a science called Ayurveda that uses the plants themselves. But of course that’s ancient science and does not offer huge commerical potential and yes, where is the green cover to create enough medicinal plants.

Surprisingly FDA and USDA has an ongoing work to produce draft guidance for industry in the production and use of pharmaceutical producing plants.

Not Surprisingly there is an article that dates back to 2004, requesting for a ban on Plant-based Transgenic Pharmaceuticals refered at the time as pharm crops.

But today the idea is gaining momentum again, in Feb 2009 SmartCell, an EU-funded project, has been awarded EUR 6 million to develop tools to synthesise valuable pharmaceutical products using plant cells.

Transplant Patients Could Live Free of Anti-Rejection Drugs

Scientists from the Lucile Packard Childrens Hospital and the Stanford University School of Medicine have identified a pattern of gene expression shared by a small group of patients who beat the odds and remained healthy for years without medication, after undergoing Organ transplant.

The findings made by Minnie Sarwal, MD, PhD, a pediatric nephrologist at Packard Children’s is a major advantage in organ transplantation treatment. Transplant recipients who share the same pattern of genes but are still on conventional medication may be able to reduce or eliminate their lifelong dependence on immunosuppressive drugs. The study may also help physicians determine how best to induce acceptance, or tolerance, of donor organs in all transplant patients, regardless of their gene expression profiles.

Although the anti-rejection medications, known as immunosuppressants, tamp down the immune system enough to permit lifesaving organ transplants, their benefits come at a price. They also quash the bodys natural response to dangerous invaders, such as bacteria and viruses, and to rogue cancer cells. Transplant physicians prescribing immunosuppressants to their patients walk a fine line between avoiding organ rejection and increasing the risk of infection and cancer

The researchers used microarray, or gene chip, technology to compare gene expression patterns in blood samples from 16 healthy volunteers with those from three groups of adult kidney transplant recipients from the United States, Canada and France

ASGT unveils new Platform for Regulating Expression of therapeutic Genes

During 10th Annual Meeting of the American Society of Gene Therapy (ASGT) in Seattle a new methid for  Regulating Expression of therapeutic Genes was introduced.

For many applications, gene transfer is being employed to engineer cells for therapeutic applications, chek the following links for article 1 IFR , 2 (Nature), 3 (NIH) , that require precise regulation in order to ensure gene expression in the correct tissue and prevent it in unwanted cell types,

Now, a team of scientists led by Dr. Luigi Naldini at the San Raffaele Telethon Institute for Gene Therapy (HSR-TIGET) in Milan have developed a new design that enable delivered genes to become highly responsive to a cell’s identity with the helps of gene regulation mediated by small RNA molecules, known as microRNA. This is particularly relevant for the emerging field of stem cell gene therapy, in which genes are delivered into a cell that can give rise to many distinct cell types.

MicroRNAs downregulate the expression of specific genes in cells where the gene is not needed, and thereby have an important influence over the identity of the cell.

Addition of microRNA binding sites into their gene delivery vectors results in gene regulation dictated by the cell’s own microRNA. Simply put, they could engineer their gene to be turned off in cells where the microRNA is present.

Dr. Naldini’s group has already begun to successfully exploit microRNA regulation for achieving stable long-term correction of hemophilia in the mouse model and for improving the safety of hematopoietic stem cell gene therapy.

DNA microarray–based analysis may be useful for assessing the risks and benefits of hormone therapy

Hormone-replacement therapy influences gene expression profiles and is associated with breast-cancer prognosis. The US FDa has apprved use of two new microarrays for clinical decision making. The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) encourages the development of new technologies such as microarrays which may improve and streamline assessments of safety and the effectiveness of medical products for the benefit of public health. The FDA anticipates that these new technologies may offer the potential for more effective approaches to medical treatment and disease prevention and management. One of the new application for microarrays apart from use in cancer treatment could be in Hormone replacement therapy. A study has been publoished using microarrays to identify modifications in the gene expression profile of the ocular posterior segment in ovariectomized (OVX) mice with and without substitutive estradiol therapy. some of the other studies can be viewd at

microarray for transgenomics studies and Study of Evolution of organisms

Barcode microarrayshas demosntrated the various ways in which the microarrays can be used in various ways.Though mirred in controvesy as any new technology has been subjected in its infancy, the basic principles behind the technology can be put to use in many other frontiers. It may be optimized to study transgenomics organims and its evolution. To study the development of drug resistance bacteria and virus. To find out how microbes evolve though all this may require new approaches it all could stem from the basic principles adopted by DNA microarry and barcode microarray and SNP arrays

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