Ebola puts focus on drugs made in tobacco plants

Print
Email
|

Associated Press

Posted on August 15, 2014 at 11:00 AM

Updated Friday, Aug 15 at 11:00 AM

NEW YORK (AP) — Drug makers and academic laboratories going beyond standard techniques in the push to develop a treatment for the Ebola virus that's killed more than 1,000 people in West Africa.

Researchers working on the experimental drug ZMapp have been using tobacco plants to produce proteins designed to deactivate the virus and kill cells infected with Ebola.

Using plants as pharmaceutical factories has been studied for about 20 years, but hasn't caught on widely. Still, researchers are now using the approach not only for Ebola but to develop medicines and vaccines against targets such as HIV, cancer, norovirus and the deadly Marburg virus, which is related to Ebola.

Most of the work in this area uses a tobacco plant, but researchers note it's just a relative of the plant used to make cigarettes. Scientists say tobacco plants work well because they grow quickly and their biology is well understood.

%@AP Links

130-v-30-(Sandy Kozel, AP correspondent)--Ebola is putting a focus on drugs made in tobacco plants. AP correspondent Sandy Kozel reports. (15 Aug 2014)

<<CUT *130 (08/15/14)££ 00:30

APPHOTO NCAB104: Early-morning dew glistens on a tobacco leaf in a field outside Rolesville, N.C., on Wednesday, Aug. 13, 2014. Researchers are using a relative of this smoking leaf to grow medicines for the flu and even, perhaps, Ebola. (AP Photo/Allen G. Breed) (13 Aug 2014)

<<APPHOTO NCAB104 (08/13/14)££

APPHOTO NCAB102: A tobacco flower waves in a dew-covered field outside Rolesville, N.C., on Wednesday, Aug. 13, 2014. Researchers are using a relative of this smoking leaf to grow medicines for the flu and even, perhaps, ebola. (AP Photo/Allen G. Breed) (13 Aug 2014)

<<APPHOTO NCAB102 (08/13/14)££

APPHOTO NY322: FILE - In this undated file photo provided by Kentucky BioProcessing, tobacco plants are grown in a controlled environment at the Kentucky BioProcessing facility in Owensboro, Ky. The company is using tobacco plants grown at this facility to help manufacture an experimental drug to treat patients infected with Ebola. In the case of the Americans being treated for Ebola, the treatment uses proteins called antibodies to inactivate the Ebola virus and help the body kill infected cells. (AP Photo/Kentucky BioProcessing, File) (6 Jan 2011)

<<APPHOTO NY322 (01/06/11)££

APPHOTO NY321: FILE - In this undated file photo provided by Kentucky BioProcessing, tobacco plants are grown in a controlled environment at the Kentucky BioProcessing facility in Owensboro, Ky. The company is using tobacco plants grown at this facility to help manufacture an experimental drug to treat patients infected with Ebola. In the case of the Americans being treated for Ebola, the treatment uses proteins called antibodies to inactivate the Ebola virus and help the body kill infected cells. (AP Photo/Kentucky BioProcessing, File) (6 Jan 2011)

<<APPHOTO NY321 (01/06/11)££

APPHOTO NCGB104: In this Aug. 14, 2014 photo, employees at Medicago USA, Inc. analyze data in Research Triangle Park, N.C. Through it's plant-based technology, the facility is capable of producing millions of doses of vaccines. (AP Photo/Gerry Broome) (14 Aug 2014)

<<APPHOTO NCGB104 (08/14/14)££

Print
Email
|