The Agrarian Biotechnology group has proposed the use of plants as platforms for the cost-effective production of recombinant microbicides. Plants are one of the most promising production systems because of their low cultivation costs and biological safety.
Microbicides are a new kind of product able to halt the transmission of the Acquired Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV), the agent that causes AIDS. These are very cheap formulations of anti-HIV agents that could be applied externally to the vagina or rectum, thus avoiding infection with HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases (STD). A series of potential candidate microbicides shall be evaluated, although a combination of several of these would offer substantial advantages over the use of one single component. These advantages would include: an increase in potency against the virus; a broader spectrum of activities against the most widespread HIV strains/groups and also protection against secondary infections and other STD.
On this basis, the main aim of the project is to simultaneously express the 2G12 and 4E10 human neutralising antibodies, and Griffithsin anti-HIV and cyanovirin-N in cereal seeds. It shall then evaluate the possibilities for efficient production of various recombinant pharmaceutical compounds in rice and corn grain and investigate the factors that might limit the expression of said recombinant proteins in a plant production platform.
The project is a research challenge that shall serve as a prelude for making cost-effective microbicidal formulations against HIV available to the infected population in developing countries.
This research has been funded by MINECO as part of the 2012 Call of the Spanish R+D+i Plan for 2008-2011.