Botany Genetically modified plants are to be used to fight against HIV, tuberculosis, diabetes and rabies

Discussion in 'Botany' started by mscbkc070904, Apr 5, 2005.

  1. mscbkc070904

    mscbkc070904 Premium Member

    Genetically modified (GM) plants are to be used to grow vaccines for use in the worldwide fight against HIV, tuberculosis, diabetes and rabies thanks to a grant of 12 million euros from the EU's Sixth Framework Programme (FP6).

    'Pharma-Planta' draws on the expertise and experience of 39 scientists from 11 European countries and South Africa to address significant health problems affecting Europe and the developing world - although the primary aim is to provide medicines for poorer countries.

    In the first international project of its kind, 'Pharma-Planta' will develop the concept from plant modification through to clinical trials and they expect to begin human trials of the drugs within four years.

    "We are addressing the serious issue of global inequality of health", says scientific coordinator, Professor Julian Ma from St George's Hospital Medical School in London. "Although the major burden of 21st century disease is in the developing world we have to accept it as a global problem as these are the countries that do not have access to vaccines.

    "We know we can use GM technology to force a plant's molecular apparatus to produce a range of medically useful compounds. Already genetic modification of other organisms is being used to produce human insulin and a hepatitis B vaccine. However, plant derived materials used in humans have never been formally addressed within the EU. So, this is a ground-breaking project that aims to provide help for the millions of people that die each year throughout the world from vaccine preventable diseases."

    Because plants are inexpensive to grow they could be used to produce large quantities of drugs or vaccines at low cost - anywhere between 10 and 100 times lower than conventional production, which is often labour intensive, expensive and often produces relatively small amounts of pharmaceuticals.

    If the project is successful, the techniques would be licensed to developing countries. They would then be able to start up their own production to generate whatever amount they require at a cost that would not impact greatly on the countries economy.

    Although the project has not finally decided which plants will be used, the likely candidates are tobacco or maize.

    "The 'Pharma-Planta' project is an excellent example of how EU Framework Funding is being used to help research and development projects that will have a major impact on the everyday lives of people both in Europe and around the world", says Claire Horton FP6UK's National Contact Point for 'Life sciences, genomics and biotechnology for health. "This funding helps bring together experts from different countries to work together in the fight against diseases that can affect us all.

  2. Bleys

    Bleys Phoenix Takes Flight Staff Member

    Interesting stuff. Couple of things though.

    I am curious how well this will play the masses who are already leary of Genetically modified foodstuffs to begin with?

    And this whole licensing agreement with countries who want to use it - how much, who profits, who paid for its development? Where are the bioethicists now?

  3. mscbkc070904

    mscbkc070904 Premium Member

    IMO, I really dont care who provides or makes money off it, IF it works and it cures or recedes the disease, then market it and get it out. If people are going to blow it out of the water and make it an issue becuase of ethics, $$$, or what have you, then it will never hit the market and we are back to square one.

    I mean, back in the day, before all the meds of the world, botanical medicines did the trick, we need to get back to the roots of this and reapply it.

    Maybe I am off on my comment and it wasnt to target you Bleys, its just people sometimes think to much about all the little nonsense things, which makes things in life harder, that is how society has become overall, always questioning every aspect, its a wonder if we ever achieve anything.
  4. Bleys

    Bleys Phoenix Takes Flight Staff Member

    Someone got up on the wrong side of the bed.


    More of my nonsense.

    My questions are valid in that if you build it - they may not come. There is a concerted effort (on both sides) to portray GM foods/plants, etc. as either the solution to all of our problems or the worse thing that was ever invented. Now somewhere in between lies the truth IMHO. If these GMs are as good as they are touted to be or even minimally so - it will still take a large PR campaign to convince people of that, especially with all the anti literature out there.

    As for ethical and monetary concerns - because governments usually fund such research, I believe that proper oversight is a necessity. Independent test trials, audits and the like should be encouraged not seen as an intrusion. I am reminded of two mantras: The first is that of Hippocrates - "first do no harm" and the second from Randy Shilts book And the band played on - "when doctors begin to act as businessmen, who do their patients turn to..."

    I look forward to more on this form of GM and hope it will become the next generation of health care. For now I will refrain from making any final judgements and maintain an open mind.

    BTW - I am glad you posted it.

  5. Hellmutt

    Hellmutt Member

    GM technology is very important and should be well researched. Lots of possible advantages. However, we must be very careful. Maybe humans doesn´t "mutate" or get hurt directly by eating GM foods, but there are insects and bugs eating these crops and birds eating those. What if we messed up the whole system? "Mad Bird Disease". Indestructable viruses... :)