Production of valuable materials using plants
Transgenic technology for plants provides an inexpensive and large-scale production of valuable recombinant proteins, especially pharmaceuticals (called molecular farming). We have attempted to produce different pharmaceuticals, such as antibodies, cytokines and vaccine components, by using different transgenic plants species (strawberry, tobacco, rice, potato, etc.).
We are also developing the molecular technologies concerning the production of plant-made pharmaceuticals. The researches about mass-production of recombinant proteins, plant virus vectors and gene silencing in plants have been progressed.
P: aFGF produced by E. coli; 1: Inoculated leaf; 2: Upper leaf; 3: Healthy plant; 4: Leaf inoculated with empty vector. The E. coli-produced aFGF was detected at 16 kDa because it is a truncated form. The in planta-produced aFGFs were observed at 17.5 kDa, which is the full-length aFGF size.
Effects of aFGF produced in plants on BAE cell proliferation.
 Development of closed-type production system for cultivation of transgenic plants
We are developing a closed-type production system for transgenic plants which produce recombinant pharmaceuticals. Now, the facility for verification is operating at AIST Hokkaido center. This facility consists of two areas, namely, transgenic plant cultivation area and pharmaceutical production area. In this facility, transgenic plants (such as strawberry, rice and potato) which produce pharmaceuticals (such as therapeutic antibodies, cytokines or vaccine components) can be cultivated in a completely artificial environment condition by using hydroponic culture system, furthermore, the pharmaceuticals could be purified from cultivated plants. In cultivation area, temperature, humidity, CO2 concentration, etc. could be controlled automatically. To prevent genetic contamination, pollens are removed by HEPA filter (High Efficiency Particulate Air Filter) from air, and culture solution and waste materials are discarded after sterilization. At pharmaceutical production area, extraction and processing of pharmaceuticals from cultivated plants are preformed. This area is kept highly clean air condition (Class 100).
This facility won the Good Design Gold Prize 2007.