Researchers harness the power of plants to fight hemophilia

Posted: April 4, 2010 at 7:33 am

Story Summary: And the very treatments that can help can also put patients lives at risk. The standard treatment is infusion with an expensively produced protein that helps the blood to clot. The approach also has the potential for use with other conditions such as food allergies and autoimmune diseases. Hemophilia treatment consists of infusing the missing protein into a patients blood. But in 25 percent of patients, the immune system rejects the therapy and makes inhibitors that stop the clotting factor from taking effect. In hemophilia B, up to 4 percent of patients develop inhibitors to the protein therapy and many develop severe systemic allergic reactions, called anaphylaxis, which can be life-threatening. To help patients tolerate therapy, doctors try to exhaust patients immune systems by administering the therapeutic protein intravenously at frequent intervals and for long periods until the body no longer responds by producing inhibitors. While that brute force approach works for hemophilia A, it often doesnt for hemophilia B, in which patients risk death from anaphylactic shock if exposed to the protein therapy. To find a new, gentler approach to developing tolerance, Herzog teamed with Henry Daniell, Ph. D. , a Pegasus professor and University Board of Trustees Chair in the College of Medicine at the University of Central Florida, who has spent the last two decades developing transgenic plants for producing and delivering oral vaccines and immune-tolerant therapies. To maximize the amount of protein produced, they inserted thousands of copies of the genes into chloroplasts — the energy-producing centers of plants — using a gene gun. D. , and Babak Moghimi, M. D. , fed the encapsulated protein to hemophilic mice for an extended period. Surrounded by the hardy plant cell walls, the protein was protected from digestive acids and enzymes while traveling through the stomach. Surrounded by the hardy plant cell walls, the protein was protected from digestive acids and enzymes while traveling through the stomach. Surrounded by the hardy plant cell walls, the protein was protected from digestive acids and enzymes while traveling through the stomach. I think this is a milestone — nobody has previously achieved such levels of robust immune tolerance by any means using a noninvasive procedure. I think this is a milestone — nobody has previously achieved such levels of robust immune tolerance by any means using a noninvasive procedure….Read the Full Story

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