Tobacco Plants Could Help Cure Ebola

Published 08/06 2014 09:31AM

Updated 08/06 2014 10:51AM

via Fox News
FOX 24 via FOX NEWS-- Drugmakers' experiments with tobacco plant treatment on Ebola are gaining international attention. Tobacco plants are a fast and cheap way of producing biotechnology treatments, which consist of antibodies-- named 'plantibodies' --that attach to the Ebola virus and inactivate it. 

These 'plantibodies' had only been tested on lab animals, until recently given to two American medical workers in Liberia.

This process uses genetic engineering. A gene is inserted into a virus, and then injected into a tobacco plant, causing the plant to be infected. Once the cells are infected, the engineered gene inside the virus produces a protein that can be used to combat the disease. Then, this protein is extracted from the leaves, and the protein gets purified.

Researchers say tobacco plants can produce a lot of Ebola-fighting 'plantibodies' for much cheaper than cell culture methods. They say there are no known safety concerns, but the manufacturing process has not yet been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

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