Jefferson Scientists Create Plant Factories Churning Out Antibodies Against Tumor Cells

Published: May 04, 2005

Scientists at Jefferson Medical College are using tobacco plants to produce monoclonal antibodies -- tiny guided protein missiles -- that can target and hunt down cancer cells. The plants promise to provide a cheaper, faster method of producing anticancer antibodies, raising hopes that the technology can one day be used in humans. Scientists, led by Hilary Koprowski, M.D., professor of microbiology and immunology and director of the Biotechnology Foundation Laboratories and the Center for Neurovirology at Jefferson Medical College of Thomas Jefferson University in Philadelphia and Kisung Ko, Ph.D., an instructor in the Department of Microbiology and Immunology at Jefferson Medical College, inserted DNA coding for an antibody against colorectal cancer into tobacco plants. The plants, in turn, become factories churning out antibody. The report appears online this week in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

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