Plant-based Biologics: Harnessing the Power of Plants for Sustainable Biologics
Plant-based biologics is a rapidly growing area of biotechnology that uses plants as production systems for biopharmaceuticals. Recent developments have shown that plants can be utilized to produce a wide range of biopharmaceuticals, including vaccines, antibodies, enzymes, protein therapeutics, and recombinant proteins.
With the growing demand for biologics, plant-based biologics offer several advantages over traditional methods of production, including lower costs, improved scalability, and reduced risk of contamination. Recently, Leaf Expression Systems, a leading UK-based commercial protein manufacturer, has started using an advanced and innovative plant-based expression system to enhance the biologics production capacity across the region.
In addition, according to a report published by Research Dive, the increasing demand for sustainable and ethical alternatives to traditional animal-based biologics is expected to fortify the growth of the global plant-based biologics market in the approaching years. The market is envisioned to generate a revenue of $182.9 million and grow at a CAGR of 4.8% over the analysis timeframe from 2022 to 2031. The major players of the market include Zea Biosciences, InVitria, PlantForm Corporation, Leaf Epression Systems, IBIO, Inc., and many more.
In recent years, there has been significant progress in the development and application of plant-based biologics. Some of them are discussed below:
- Covid-19 Vaccines: One of the most significant recent developments in plant-based biologics is the use of plants to produce Covid-19 vaccines. Several companies have utilized plants to manufacture vaccines, including Medicago, a biopharmaceutical company that uses the tobacco plant to produce its Covid-19 vaccine.
Medicago’s plant-based vaccine has shown promising results in clinical trials, with a Phase 2/3 trial showing 100% efficacy against the Delta variant. The use of plants in vaccine production offers several advantages, including rapid scalability, low cost, and the ability to produce vaccines without the need for refrigeration.
- Antibody Production: Another area of plant-based biologics that has seen significant development is the production of antibodies. Many companies are utilizing plants as production systems for therapeutic antibodies, such as Biolex Therapeutics, which uses duckweed to produce antibodies.
Duckweed offers several advantages over traditional methods of antibody production, including lower costs, improved scalability, and the ability to produce complex antibodies. In addition, duckweed can be grown in large quantities and can produce high yields of biologically active antibodies.
- Enzyme Production: Enzymes are critical components of many industrial and biopharmaceutical processes, and the production of enzymes using plants has seen significant progress in recent years. For instance, ProMetic Biosciences is developing plant-based production systems for enzymes used in the treatment of lysosomal storage disorders. ProMetic’s plant-based production systems are less likely to be contaminated with mammalian viruses and can produce enzymes with improved stability and activity.
- Protein Therapeutics: Plant-based biologics are also being used to produce protein therapeutics, including insulin and blood clotting factors. For example, Medicago is developing plant-based production systems for several protein therapeutics, including insulin and Factor VIII, which are used in the treatment of hemophilia. In addition, the use of plant-based production systems can produce proteins with improved stability and activity.
- Bioreactors: Another recent development in plant-based biologics is the use of plant bioreactors. Plant bioreactors involve the use of plants to produce large quantities of biopharmaceuticals in a controlled environment. One company utilizing plant bioreactors is Fraunhofer IME, which is developing a plant-based production system to manufacture complex proteins.
Would Plant-based Biologics be a Game Changer in Biopharmaceutical Industry?
Plant-based biologics hold immense promise in the field of biotechnology with significant potential to manufacture biopharmaceuticals. Developments in this field have shown that plants are an efficient and cost-effective production system for a variety of biologics. With the growing demand for biologics, plant-based biologics have the potential to revolutionize the field of medicine and offer sustainable solutions to produce life-saving drugs.
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