SCI-TECH & AGRI

Plant-based production of antibody

THE DOW chemical company and Sunol Molecular Corp. have signed an agreement to produce a therapeutic protein in transgenic plants and compare its properties with those of the same antibody produced in mammalian cell culture. Dow will express in plants an anti-tissue factor antibody developed by Sunol for treating multiple types of cancer. ``We see potential value in plant-based techniques to provide large-scale production economies, particularly useful for antibodies requiring large dosing and multiple indications,'' says Dr. Hing Wong, Sunol's CEO. "

Tissue Factor (TF), is a membrane protein receptor that initiates the extrinsic pathway for blood coagulation after tissue injury to maintain hemostasis; inappropriate expression of TF results in thrombosis contributing to coronary artery diseases.

Also TF is expressed on many types of cancer cells and is involved in tumour growth and metastasis. . Sunol's anti-tissue factor antibody inhibits activities attributed to tissue factor and provides a cytolytic effect to destroy target cancer cells.

Sunol currently has tissue factor antagonists and anti-infective antibodies under development to address significant unmet medical needs in the treatment or prevention of cardiovascular diseases, inflammation, cancer, and serious infectious diseases.

Until recently, all of Sunol's antibody products were produced in mammalian cell culture ). An alternative to production of antibodies in mammalian cells is to use plants for antibody expression and production. Sunol's plant expression of monoclonal antibodies provides the following two important further differentiating capabilities.

One is a transient expression system that permits milligram quantities of antibody to be produced in as little as one week. This system allows for the production of numerous antibody proteins in sufficient quantity for research and can also supply sufficient protein for evaluation in small animals for proof-of-concept studies. In the mammalian cell system this process is expensive and time-consuming. The rapid turnaround time also expedites the evaluation of antibodies that are being humanised or optimised through sequential rounds of mutagenesis by enabling the scientist to assess the effect of the mutations on binding affinity.

The second capability is a stable transgenic plant system for protein production. Using this approach, plants are stably transformed with an expression vector to create plants that produce high levels of antibody. This approach has the potential to substantially reduce the cost of manufacturing monoclonal antibodies and also reduce the time needed to develop a process for antibody production on a large scale, to as much as less than one year, compared to the 1 to 2 years time required to develop a mammalian cell production process. In addition to compressing the antibody development time, the transgenic plant technology also significantly reduces the capital required to develop a facility for monoclonal antibody production compared to traditional CHO cell manufacturing costs.

N.N.Sachitanand

in Bangalore

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