Revolution und Reaktion beim Biopharming

STANFORD – Dass aus Pflanzen Medizin gewonnen wird, ist nicht neu. Aspirin beispielsweise wurde im 18. Jahrhundert erstmals aus der Rinde von Weidenbäumen extrahiert. Und auch viele andere bekannte Arzneimittel wie Morphin, Kodein und der Ballaststoff Metamucil werden aus den Pflanzen der Welt gewonnen.

Später dann haben Wissenschaftler Technologien entwickelt, die diesen Prozess noch weiter führen. Sie verwenden Gentechnik, um Nahrungsmittelpflanzen dazu zu bringen, hochwertige Medikamente zu produzieren. Diese viel versprechende Technologie entstand vor etwa fünfzehn Jahren. Damals gab es klinische Versuche mit Impfstoffen und Medikamenten aus Bananen, Tomaten und Tabak. Leider hat die vehemente Risikoaversion der Regulierungsbehörden dazu geführt, dass seitdem keine Fortschritte mehr gemacht wurden.

Ein frühes Beispiel für dieses so genannte Biopharming war die Herstellung von Reis mit zwei menschlichen Proteinen, Lactoferrin und Lysozym, durch das Biotech-Unternehmen Ventria. Das Reiskorn wird angebaut und geerntet und danach weiterverarbeitet, um die Proteine zu extrahieren, die dann zur Rehydrierung bei Durchfall oral verabreicht werden. Durchfall ist nach Krankheiten der Atemwege in Entwicklungsländern die zweithäufigste tödliche Infektionskrankheit für Kinder unter fünf Jahren.

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