Revolução e reação na Biopharming

STANFORD – A obtenção de medicamentos a partir de plantas não é novidade. A aspirina foi isolada pela primeira vez a partir da casca do salgueiro no século XVIII. E muitos outros produtos farmacêuticos comuns, incluindo a morfina, a codeína e o suplemento de fibra Metamucil, são purificados a partir da flora mundial.

Mais recentemente, os cientistas desenvolveram técnicas que levam este processo a um outro patamar, utilizando a engenharia genética para induzir culturas agrícolas de forma a sintetizar medicamentos de alto valor. Conhecida como “biopharming”, a grande promessa desta tecnologia surgiu há cerca de 15 anos, com ensaios clínicos de vacinas e medicamentos realizados em bananas, tomates e tabaco. Infelizmente, o progresso estagnou desde então devido à forte aversão ao risco dos reguladores.

Um dos primeiros exemplos de biopharming foi a produção, pela empresa de biotecnologia Ventria Bioscience, de arroz que continha duas proteínas humanas, lactoferrina e lisozima. Uma vez cultivado e colhido, o grão do arroz é processado para extrair e purificar as proteínas para utilização em solução de reidratação oral para o tratamento de diarreia, que só é ultrapassada pelas doenças respiratórias como a principal causa de morte infecciosa de crianças com menos de cinco anos de idade nos países em desenvolvimento.

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