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Lettuce shakes up the pharmaceutics industry

A new study finds that lettuce can be used as a cheap alternative for the production and oral delivery of biopharmaceuticals like insulin

Quelle:: University of Pennsylvania and WHO

Capsules with the ground lettuce leaves containing the clotting factors for hemophiliac patients
Capsules with the ground lettuce leaves containing the clotting factors for hemophiliac patients

Researchers from the University of Pennsylvania have developed a new, low-cost method for producing protein-based drugs like insulin that also eliminates the need for cold storage – lettuce.

This could change the whole pharmaceutical industry, as such drugs are prohibitively expensive  and usually require refrigeration, which is not possible in many parts of the world. 

Professor Henry Daniel, the senior author of the study
Professor Henry Daniel, the senior author of the study
University of Pennsylvania

The scientists successfully experimented with clotting factors for hemophiliac patients. They  genetically modified lettuce plants to contain a 10-fold dosage of the clotting factors, freeze dried the leaves and ground them into a powder. 

 

This powder can then be turned into an oral medication that can retain properties two years without any cold storage. 

Lettuce samples from the lab, where the experiments were conducted
Lettuce samples from the lab, where the experiments were conducted
University of Pennsylvania

These findings could have an even greater impact, when it comes to vaccines. Lettuce could make their production and transport much cheaper, making them more easily accessible to people in developing countries and thus eliminating the millions of death caused by vaccine-preventable diseases that occur every year. 

 

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