生物制药的革命和反动

斯坦福—从植物中获得药物并非新鲜事。阿司匹林最初就是在十八世纪从柳树皮中分离出来的。其他许多常规药物,包括吗啡、可待因纤维补充剂美达施(Metamucil)都是由植物提纯而来。

更晚近一些,科学家发展出将这一过程更进一步的技术,使用基因工程将农作物合成为高价值药物。这一技术的远大前景被称为“生物制药”,出现在大约15年前,始于从香蕉、番茄和烟草中生产的疫苗和药物的临床试验。不幸的是,由于监管者过于厌恶风险,生物制药的进步此后一直陷于停顿。

一个生物制药的早期例子是文特里亚生物科技公司(Ventria Bioscience)所生产的一种水稻,这种水稻包含两种人类蛋白质:乳铁蛋白和溶解酵素。这种水稻种植和收获后,对其谷粒进行加工,提炼和提纯这两种蛋白质就可以用于治疗痢疾的口服补液。在发展中国家,痢疾是仅次于呼吸道疾病的第二大五岁以下儿童流行病杀手。

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