The treat a patient and to produce that much

The process
involves growing tobacco plants, not in the acres of fields earmarked by
tobacco companies for their cigarettes, but in a controlled environment in a
greenhouse, for six weeks. Then, the leaves of the plants are injected or
infused with a plant bacterium that carries a valuable payload — the genes for
the antibodies that can bind to and neutralize the Ebola virus. The plant cells
treat the new genes as one of their own, and start making the antibody. It
takes about 14g of these antibodies to treat a patient and to produce that much
requires around 78 tobacco plants and about seven to 10 days

Why plants? The
time it takes to grow a plant is less time than it takes to genetically
engineer a mouse or other rodent to produce human antibodies, which is how such
products have been made in the past. It’s also less expensive. Plant-based
manufacturing represents a promising new way of producing drugs that could cut
the time it takes to bring critical medications, such as a flu vaccine during a
pandemic, to a large number of people. Researchers have used the technology to
develop a vaccine against norovirus, the infection that plagues cruise ships,
for example, that is being tested now.

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The molecular machinery of plant
cells is closely related to that of animal cells. Thus, plant cells are able to
synthesize and process relatively complex biologics. Indeed, GE
Genetically Engineered plants have been shown to be able to produce human antibodies (immunoglobulins).
Such so-called “plant bodies”
appear to have the same biochemical properties as antibodies produced in animal
cell cultures.

The first proof of concept for
functional antibody production in plants was provided in 1989, when two
transgenic tobacco plants, each expressing light or heavy chains, were produced
by Agrobacterium-mediated transformation of tobacco leaf discs. Crossing these
two transgenic tobacco lines led to the expression of assembled functional IgG
antibodies, accumulating up to 1.3% of total soluble protein. From then on,
numerous antibodies and other proteins have been expressed in plants,
demonstrating that plants can express and assemble components into functional,
complex multimeric