Genetically modifying rice to produce HIV-neutralizing proteins

July 31, 2018 by Bob Yirka, Phys.org report
Credit: CC0 Public Domain

A team of researchers from Spain, the U.S. and the U.K. has genetically modified a strain of rice to produce HIV-neutralizing proteins. In their paper published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, the group describes the technique by which they modified the rice and how it might be used to prevent HIV infections.

Medical scientists have made great strides in treating people infected with HIV—death rates from infections have plummeted, especially in the developed parts of the world. Scientists have also put in a lot of time and effort to develop a vaccine against the virus, but thus far, have come up empty. In the meantime, oral medications have been developed that can stave off an infection for a short period of time. But as the researchers with this new effort note, such medications are not generally available in third world countries. To help those at risk, they have been hard at work developing a strain of that has the same HIV-neutralizing proteins as the oral medications. Once grown, the rice produces seeds that can be processed on-site to make a topical cream containing the proteins—the cream can then be applied to the skin to allow the proteins to enter the body.

The rice developed by the team produces one type of antibody and two kinds of proteins that bind directly to the HIV virus, preventing them from interacting with human cells. The researchers note that production costs of making the are nominal once the rice has been grown—people living in areas can grow as much of the rice as they need, then make the paste and apply it themselves. They note that further testing will need to be done to ensure the genetic engineering process does not introduce other unknown chemicals that might be harmful to humans. They also acknowledge that some might be resistant to the idea of using such rice due to the negative press GM crops have been getting in recent years. There will also be regulatory hurdles to overcome in each part of the world where the rice might be grown and used.

Explore further: Previously unknown rice blast resistance isolated

More information: Evangelia Vamvaka et al. Unexpected synergistic HIV neutralization by a triple microbicide produced in rice endosperm, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (2018). DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1806022115

Abstract
The transmission of HIV can be prevented by the application of neutralizing monoclonal antibodies and lectins. Traditional recombinant protein manufacturing platforms lack sufficient capacity and are too expensive for developing countries, which suffer the greatest disease burden. Plants offer an inexpensive and scalable alternative manufacturing platform that can produce multiple components in a single plant, which is important because multiple components are required to avoid the rapid emergence of HIV-1 strains resistant to single microbicides. Furthermore, crude extracts can be used directly for prophylaxis to avoid the massive costs of downstream processing and purification. We investigated whether rice could simultaneously produce three functional HIV-neutralizing proteins (the monoclonal antibody 2G12, and the lectins griffithsin and cyanovirin-N). Preliminary in vitro tests showed that the cocktail of three proteins bound to gp120 and achieved HIV-1 neutralization. Remarkably, when we mixed the components with crude extracts of wild-type rice endosperm, we observed enhanced binding to gp120 in vitro and synergistic neutralization when all three components were present. Extracts of transgenic plants expressing all three proteins also showed enhanced in vitro binding to gp120 and synergistic HIV-1 neutralization. Fractionation of the rice extracts suggested that the enhanced gp120 binding was dependent on rice proteins, primarily the globulin fraction. Therefore, the production of HIV-1 microbicides in rice may not only reduce costs compared to traditional platforms but may also provide functional benefits in terms of microbicidal potency.

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13 comments

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dogbert
2.3 / 5 (3) Jul 31, 2018
Why take a staple food in world wide use and genetically engineer it to produce a potent medicine with significant side effects and propose to place this product in general production?

GMA madness. We do things just because we can with no concern for the damage we will be causing.
TheMuffinMan
2.3 / 5 (3) Jul 31, 2018
What could possibly go wrong?!
Noctie
not rated yet Aug 03, 2018
Why take a staple food in world wide use and genetically engineer it to produce a potent medicine with significant side effects and propose to place this product in general production?

GMA madness. We do things just because we can with no concern for the damage we will be causing.


antiGMO clowns are really fking dumb. #1 No one said anything about placing this product in general production #2 What side effects ? GMOs have been studied for more than 30 years and there is absolutely no evidence they are harmful. If you have any evidence that they are go ahead, publish your research and pick up your nobel prize, otherwise stfu and stop holding humanity back.
dogbert
1 / 5 (2) Aug 06, 2018
Noctie,0
The specific modifications were to cause the rice to contain HIV medication. These medications can be very harmful. And the article indicates the plan to grow the rice in third world countries with untreated or underrated HIV.

Madness.
antigoracle
1 / 5 (1) Aug 06, 2018
Why take a staple food in world wide use and genetically engineer it to produce a potent medicine with significant side effects and propose to place this product in general production?

GMA madness. We do things just because we can with no concern for the damage we will be causing.


antiGMO clowns are really fking dumb. #1 No one said anything about placing this product in general production #2 What side effects ? GMOs have been studied for more than 30 years and there is absolutely no evidence they are harmful. If you have any evidence that they are go ahead, publish your research and pick up your nobel prize, otherwise stfu and stop holding humanity back.

A Jackass brays. Please find someone with a brain to read and explain the article to you. Putting this rice into the hands of the public is exactly what they are saying. We, know for a fact that these GMO crops can cross pollinate and so leave us without any of the NATURAL varieties. Now, keep braying jackass.
Noctie
not rated yet Aug 08, 2018
Noctie,0
The specific modifications were to cause the rice to contain HIV medication. These medications can be very harmful. And the article indicates the plan to grow the rice in third world countries with untreated or underrated HIV.

Madness.


Still absolutely no evidence to support your claims. Clearly you are not here for the science so did you register just to show everyone how scientifically illiterate you are ?
Noctie
not rated yet Aug 08, 2018
A Jackass brays. Please find someone with a brain to read and explain the article to you. Putting this rice into the hands of the public is exactly what they are saying. We, know for a fact that these GMO crops can cross pollinate and so leave us without any of the NATURAL varieties. Now, keep braying jack


I was considering writing a seriously reply but after checking your comment history and seeing you are also a climate change denier and a conspiracy nutbag i decided not to waste my time, can't fix stupid.

humy
not rated yet Aug 08, 2018
Noctie,0
The specific modifications were to cause the rice to contain HIV medication. These medications can be very harmful.


"very harmful" to who? You make no sense. If "very harmful" to patients then it would be very harmful to them ANYWAY regardless whether GM is involved. If "very harmful" to non-patients then only an idiot non-patients would deliberately and purposely eat it.
antigoracle
not rated yet Aug 08, 2018
A Jackass brays. Please find someone with a brain to read and explain the article to you. Putting this rice into the hands of the public is exactly what they are saying. We, know for a fact that these GMO crops can cross pollinate and so leave us without any of the NATURAL varieties. Now, keep braying jack


I was considering writing a seriously reply but after checking your comment history and seeing you are also a climate change denier and a conspiracy nutbag i decided not to waste my time, can't fix stupid.


The Jackass brays, yet again.
You should seriously get someone with a brain to read and explain the article to you. Is your previous response, serious?

QUOTE FROM THE ARTICLE--
They note that further testing will need to be done to ensure the genetic engineering process does not introduce other unknown chemicals that might be harmful to humans


You are the "perfect" example of --- can't fix stupid.
humy
not rated yet Aug 08, 2018
We, know for a fact that these GMO crops can cross pollinate and so leave us without any of the NATURAL varieties.
antigoracle

I agree that is an issue. But, just like most if all GM issues, there are solutions. For example, using the latest genetic engineering techniques, GM it so that the pollen from it can only pollinate that GM variety i.e. not other varieties (and vice versa). This can be done! Such genetic engineering techniques can be and are gradually being developed.
If that was done, would you still have an objection to this GM?
humy
not rated yet Aug 08, 2018
But, just like most if all GM issues, ...

My missedit; that should be;
"But, just like most if not all GM issues, .."
antigoracle
1 / 5 (1) Aug 08, 2018
"very harmful" to who? You make no sense. If "very harmful" to patients then it would be very harmful to them ANYWAY regardless whether GM is involved. If "very harmful" to non-patients then only an idiot non-patients would deliberately and purposely eat it.

WOW!!
You are truly that ignorant.
Answer me this -- If someone gave you 2 plates of rice, one GM and the other non-GM. Do you think you could tell the difference?
Who plants rice in these developing countries? Do, you think they have any knowledge of science ,such that, they can prevent this rice from making it onto the plates of people?
What about all the animals in the wild that may consume this rice, are they going to test that they too are unaffected by it?
Only an idiot would put this rice out into the public, far less into the hands of these people.
humy
not rated yet Aug 08, 2018

WOW!!
You are truly that ignorant.
Answer me this -- If someone gave you 2 plates of rice, one GM and the other non-GM. Do you think you could tell the difference?
antigoracle

The consumer won't need to;
Do you think the people growing it for medicine would be so stupid and irresponsible as to sell it off as cheaper and thus less profitably ordinary food?
Why to you assume all people that grow it or sell it are complete morons?

There has already been for years GM yeast for making insulin and most insulin for diabetics is made that way. With you same weird assumption of other people's total stupidity, you should be surprised it isn't commonly sold off cheap as just cheap bread making yeast. So why do you think that hasn't happened? Its because people aren't totally stupid.

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