Academic journal article Journal of Environmental Health

Antibodies from Plants Protect against Anthrax

Academic journal article Journal of Environmental Health

Antibodies from Plants Protect against Anthrax

Article excerpt

Scientists have produced, in tobacco plants, human antibodies that could be used to treat anthrax exposure. They reported their findings at the 2005 American Society for Microbiology Biodefense Research Meeting.

"The unpredictable nature of bioterrorism events compels us to develop cost-effective, highly stable medical countermeasures," said Les Baillie of the Naval Medical Research Center. Dr. Baillie, who is also associated with the University of Maryland Biotechnology Institute, conducted his research in collaboration with Dr. Vidadi Yusibov, Director of the Fraunhofer USA Center for Molecular Biotechnology (CMB) in Newark, Delaware. Funding for the project at the Fraunhofer USA CMB was obtained through the efforts of a congressional delegation led by Delaware's senior senator, Joe Biden.

To create the "plantibodies," Baillie and his colleagues first collected cells that make antibodies from individuals who had been vaccinated against anthrax. Then genes that encode the antibody were inserted into a bacterium that transfers the gene into the plant cells. "The plant makes the antibody for you in a few days," said Baillie.

The antibodies were then purified from leaves harvested from the infected plants and tested for their ability to protect mice against anthrax infection. …

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