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Scientists find a healthy use for tobacco

The very notion of a healthy use for tobacco seems absurd. After all, this is a drug which has been notorious for its deathly health effects in smoking.
 
 
 
The very notion of a healthy use for tobacco seems absurd. After all, this is a drug which has been notorious for its deathly health effects in smoking. However, the perception of tobacco may change as scientists in Europe have potentially found a way which would make tobacco used for good and not evil.

The researchers said they have produced tobacco plants which contain the anti-inflammatory protein interleukin-10 (IL-10) which may curb insulin-dependent type 1 diabetes and other autoimmune diseases. The scientific and health communities have recently been experimenting in molecular farming where proteins and cures for drugs may be found in plants.

Mario Pezzotti of the University of Verona, head scientist in the tobacco operation, says transgenic plants are more cost effective than the current solution. To date, scientists generate antibody medicine within cell cultures inside stainless steel fermenters.

"Transgenic plants are attractive systems for the production of therapeutic proteins because they offer the possibility of large scale production at low cost, and they have low maintenance requirements. The fact that they can be eaten, which delivers the drug where it is needed, thus avoiding lengthy purification procedures, is another plus compared with traditional drug synthesis," Pezzotti said in a statement.

Companies such as Protalix BioTherapeutics out of Israel and Diamyd out of Sweden have been active in the molecular farming scene. Diamyd has tested another tobacco induced vaccine, glutamic acid decarboxylase (GAD65), against the anti-immune diseases. Meanwhile, Protalix BioTherapeutics has experimenting with a vaccine from a culture of carrot cells that may cure Gaucher disease.

(Information sourced from Reuters and ScienceDaily. For more information please see the following article http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/03/090318211236.htm)
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