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Spanish Scientists Have Developed a Genetically Modified Rice That Produces Three HIV Neutralizing Proteins


Spanish Scientists Have Developed a Genetically Modified Rice That Produces Three HIV Neutralizing Proteins Inquiry

Take the bowl of rice paste to prevent HIV! This is not an incredible whimsy, but a science that is indeed possible. Scientists from Spain have successfully developed a genetically modified rice that is expected to provide an inexpensive alternative to the production of drugs that prevent AIDS.

 

Admittedly, oral antiviral drugs used as pre-exposure prophylaxis can significantly reduce the risk of HIV infection. However, for people living in poverty or developing countries, the price is a big problem.

 

The GM rice from the University of Lleida in Spain and the irsicaixa AIDS research institute in Barcelona can produce three kinds of proteins that can neutralize HIV at the same time, which can be used as a low-cost HIV preventive drug. In particular, this method can directly pulverize rice seeds and apply them in the form of a topical paste or paste without further processing or purification steps.

 

 

Related research has been published in the latest issue of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS), the article is “Unexpected synergistic HIV neutralization by a triple microbicide produced in rice endosperm”.

 

Specifically, this transgenic rice produces one antibody (monoclonal antibody 2G12) and two glycoconjugate proteins (griffithsin, cyanovirin-N), which prevent the mutual interaction between HIV and human cells-this is the first step in HIV infection.

 

Paul Christou, a researcher who led the study, said that an important new finding in their work is that endogenous rice seed proteins greatly enhance the effectiveness of these three HIV-binding proteins. In addition to enhancing the activity of these anti-HIV proteins, rice seeds also provide a simpler production platform than conventional methods. In general, the use of microbial or mammalian cells to produce therapeutic proteins in fermenters can be costly.

 

According to Christou, plant-derived drug proteins can be easily and inexpensively scaled up, and only as many plants as possible can be planted to achieve specific production goals without the need for expensive fermenter facilities. As long as the first plant is successfully developed, the cost will be greatly reduced in the later period. In their case, three protein can be produced in one plant, further reducing costs.

 

Currently, the research team is continuing to develop this genetically modified rice, although the future is still challenging.

 

Christou said that their work represents a proof of concept theory, but this needs to be advanced to animal experiments and human clinical trials. However, for public institutions such as universities and research institutions, the cost is prohibitive.

 

However, raising funds through public institutions and charities is one of the possible ways to solve this problem. Some of the lab’s other projects focus on improving crops to enhance nutrition and medical applications, and have been funded by the Bill Melinda Gates Foundation and the European Union.

 

Christou also pointed out that money is not the only problem, and the future regulatory costs will be very high. Of course, they must also deal with the problem of genetic modification. All of this adds complexity to the future commercialization and timeline of this GM rice, and they will work with partners to actively seek outside resources to advance this GM rice from proof of concept to follow-up clinical trials.

 

 

 

Reference

Vamvaka E, Farré G, Molinos-Albert LM, et al. Unexpected synergistic HIV neutralization by a triple microbicide produced in rice endosperm. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2018 Aug 14;115(33):E7854-E7862. doi: 10.1073/pnas.1806022115.

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