Collagen manufactured from transgenic tobacco plants

Jun 10, 2010

A scientist at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem's Robert H. Smith Faculty of Agriculture, Food and Environment has succeeded in producing a replica of human collagen from tobacco plants - an achievement with tremendous commercial implications for use in a variety of human medical procedures.

Natural human type I collagen is the most abundant protein in the human body and is the main protein found in all connective tissue. Commercially produced collagen (pro-collagen) is used in surgical implants and many wound healing devices in regenerative medicine. The current market for collagen-based medical devices in orthopedics and exceeds US $30 billion annually worldwide.

Currently, commercial is produced from farm animals such as cows and pigs as well as from human cadavers. These materials are prone to harbor human pathogens such as viruses or prions (mad-cow disease). Human cadaver is scarce, and for certain indications possesses serious ethical issues.

Producing human recombinant type I pro-collagen requires the coordinated expression of five different genes. Prof. Oded Shoseyov of the Robert H. Smith Institute of Plant Sciences and Genetics in Agriculture has established the only laboratory in the world that has reported successful co-expression all the five essential genes in transgenic for the production of processed pro-collagen. For this work, Shoseyov was one of the recipients of a Kaye Innovation Award during the Hebrew University Board of Governors meeting in June.

Shoseyov's invention on has been patented, and the scientific findings behind it were published recently in the journal Biomacromolecules. A company, CollPlant Ltd., has been established based on patents and technology that were developed in Shoseyov's laboratory. It has raised US$15 million to establish the first commercial molecular farming company in Israel and is already manufacturing collagen-based products that have attracted collaborative commercial interest from companies in the US, Japan Europe and Israel.

Yissum, the technology transfer company of the Hebrew University, is one of the shareholders of CollPlant.. CollPlant is a public company traded in "TASE", and the potential revenue for the Hebrew University from this invention is estimated to reach into the multi-million dollar range.

The Kaye Awards have been given annually since 1994. Isaac Kaye of England, a prominent industrialist in the pharmaceutical industry, established the awards to encourage faculty, staff, and students of the Hebrew University to develop innovative methods and inventions with good commercial potential which will benefit the university and society.

Explore further: New technique reveals immune cell motion through variety of tissues

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Scientists create super-strong collagen

Jan 12, 2010

(PhysOrg.com) -- A team of University of Wisconsin-Madison researchers has created the strongest form of collagen known to science, a stable alternative to human collagen that could one day be used to treat arthritis and ...

Research reveals structure and behavior of collagen

Feb 26, 2008

The structure and behavior of one of the most common proteins in our bodies has been resolved at a level of detail never before seen, thanks to new research performed at the Advanced Photon Source (APS) at the U.S. Department ...

Antioxidant to retard wrinkles discovered

Aug 30, 2007

A new method for fighting skin wrinkles has been developed at the Hebrew University Faculty of Agriculture, Food and Environmental Quality Sciences.

Recommended for you

'Global positioning' for molecules

Dec 19, 2014

In everyday life, the global positioning system (GPS) can be employed to reliably determine the momentary location of one en route to the desired destination. Scientists from the Institute of Physical and ...

Cells build 'cupboards' to store metals

Dec 17, 2014

Lawrence Livermore researchers in conjunction with collaborators at University of California (link is external), Los Angeles have found that some cells build intracellular compartments that allow the cell ...

User comments : 2

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

Quantum_Conundrum
not rated yet Jun 10, 2010
Where is this technology taking us?

This is just dreadful ethically, because we are starting to take human dna and put it into things for the purpose of harvesting protiens (and no doubt eventually organs) just like the "bad guys" in classic science fiction and horror.

The thought of someone potentially SMOKING a cigarette made from tobacco plant that has human DNA is just terrible.

It seems like a modern, "politically correct" form of cannibalism.

What next? Will we engineer clones of ourselves and harvest organs like in Gattica?

Will we engineer a genetic "caste" system with semi-sentient slave race, as in the Morlocks of the "Time Machine" book and movie?

Animal-like plants and plant-like animals?

When will this abomination stop, and what will be left of "real" nature?
MikeLisanke
not rated yet Jul 04, 2010
I don't think they plan to sell the tobacco for cigarettes after they do this. Instead, they are looking for ways to make tobacco plant (farms) remain useful as the plant's prime market continues to erode.

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.