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Insulin produced in genetically modified plants

US researchers have successfully expressed the precursor protein of insulin in lettuce and tobacco plants

US researchers have successfully expressed the precursor protein of insulin in lettuce and tobacco plants.

In addition, feeding diabetic mice with these genetically modified plants protected the animals against inflammation of the pancreas.

Dr Henry Daniell, from the University of Central Florida in Orlando, said in a report in the Plant Biotechnology Journal that generating the pro-insulin protein in plants is a low-cost alternative to standard production methods.

In the study, the scientists describe the creation of lettuce and tobacco chloroplast lines which manufacture a fusion protein consisting of a subunit of cholera toxin joined to human pro-insulin.

The researchers observed that diabetic mice fed with the altered tobacco leaf were protected against the destruction of insulin-producing beta-cells in the pancreas and was also associated with lower levels of glucose in blood and urine.

As tobacco is cargenogenic, researchers are now using genetically engineered lettuce instead, adding that testing in humans was now underway.

8th August 2007

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