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New production method enables the production of complex human proteins in moss
Mosses may be the pharmaceutical factories of the future. In the search for suitable sustainable and biological methods in the manufacture of medicines, scientists discovered great potential in the inconspicuous crops for the pharmaceutical, agricultural, food and cosmetics industries. Mosses are real survivors and can adapt to the most extreme environmental conditions. The diverse possibilities that mosses offer in drug production are still largely untapped.
The Heilbronn company Greenovation developed the drug "moss-aGal" for the metabolic disorder Fabry disease, which was produced with the help of genetically modified mosses. The drug has already successfully completed a phase 1 study. In October, the Heilbronn-based company announced the successful completion of the phase 1 clinical trial for its drug for the treatment of Fabry disease after the treatment of the last patient. "The observed drop in the Gb3 level in the urine shows an efficient uptake of moss-aGal into the kidneys, which are often severely damaged in Fabry disease," said Prof. Julia Hennermann, senior doctor of the study in a press release.
How does the production work?
According to the manufacturer, Greenovation Biotech GmbH has developed a process that uses the genetically modified moss Physcomitrella patens to produce complex human proteins in bioreactors. The highly effective glycoproteins can be used to treat rare diseases. The drug “moss-aGal” resulting from this procedure is intended to serve as enzyme replacement therapy for patients with Fabry disease. "It is the first drug candidate worldwide to be produced in moss," the company wrote on the company's website. The plans for a clinical trial II / III are already in progress. The data from the phase 1 study will be presented on February 8, 2018 at the 14th World SymposiumTM for Lysosomal Storage Diseases in San Diego.
When will the drug be available?
With the successful completion of the phase 1 study, Greenovation Biotech GmbH has passed the first hurdle for the approval of a moss-based drug. "We expect the product to be ready for the market at the beginning of the next decade," says Dr. Thomas Frischmuth, managing director of Greenovation.
What are the advantages of "moss factories"
The manufacturer names a number of positive aspects of drug production using moss compared to production systems based on animal cells. For example, there would be no contamination and pathogens from animal products. The manufacturing costs are also significantly lower. In addition, no use of antibiotics that could cause resistance would be necessary for mosses.
Moss research on the advance
The EU is also showing keen interest in green factories. It is funding the Mosstech project with more than 1.6 million euros for the next four years. The aim of the project is to enable the production of complex fine chemicals in genetically modified mosses. The Faculty of Biology of the University of Freiburg is also part of it. Around half a million euros will go to the university, whose faculty for biology is a leader in the field of moss research. Other universities in Denmark, Sweden, Portugal, the USA, Italy and Iceland are also involved in the project. (fp)