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Nov 15, 2010

Virus Gene Could Provide "Cheap Green" Pharmaceutical Alternative

On 15 November 2010, Texas A&M University announced that a gene from a virus that destroys tomatoes, peppers and eggplants could be used to "allow foreign genes to be introduced into a plant without harmful effects."  This could allow for the creation of a "cheap, green alternative" for pharmaceutical development.

Today the "many protein-based drugs are expressed in and purified from bacteria ... Plants not only form a cheap and green alternative, but they also have the benefit that they process proteins properly -- something bacteria can not do."

The virus gene was isolated from a tomato bushy stunt virus.  The isolated gene is called P19  and it "suppresses RNA silencing ... [this is a] fairly recently discovered defense that plants use against viruses. ... During this silencing, short strands of RNA serve as signals to alert the plant that a virus is attempting to infect so that all of its tissues start mobilizing to defend. ... the P19 protein forms counter-defense units that are each composed of two protein molecules which form a sort of caliper to measure and capture signal molecules, thereby suppressing the defense to the virus which can infect a plant."

For more see: "Virus component helps improve gene expression without harming plantm" Texas A&M AgriLife Communications, 15 November 2010.

About Margaret

CEO and Curator (The Food Museum) | Managing Director and Chief Editor (GR2 Global LLC) | Educator (UCLA PhD) | Researching and writing on global food issues, nutrition and health, sustainability, history (preservation), conservation (natural resources), and design.
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