Researchers looking to tobacco to produce cheap medicine
Published Tuesday, February 26, 2019 5:15PM EST
It’s been well proven that tobacco can cause a host of health issues, but now researchers are turning to tobacco plants as a beneficial health tool.
Tobacco plants could make a word of difference for patients suffering from diabetes, stroke, dementia and a host of other inflammatory and auto immune disorders says Dr. Tony Jevnikar.
The professor at the Schulich School of Medicine and Dentistry and scientist at Lawson Health Research explains, “The challenge is that a lot of medicines and drugs can’t be made or afforded by huge production costs and plants offer that capacity.”
Jevnikar and his research team are using the tobacco plants as green-bio reactors to produce an anti-inflammatory protein called IL-37.
“It turns out that IL-37 is a master regulator of inflammation and it’s intended by the body to control inflammatory responses,” he says.
However creating massive quantities of this protein for therapeutic use wasn’t affordable, until tobacco plants came into play.
The research team says one of the advantages of using tobacco plants is because large yields can be grown quickly and genes can be turned into proteins within two weeks.
Dr. Shengwu Ma, a professor at Western University and also a scientist at Lawson says it’s also beneficial because of the controlled growing environment.
“So if you use tobacco as a production system you can reduce the likelihood of a contamination like in a food channel so it’s safer.”
Currently the study has shown promising effects in animal models and the hopes are to be able to bring this concept to clinical use in the future.