Virus-based pharmaceutical production in plants : an opportunity to reduce health problems in Africa.

Bamogo PKA, Brugidou C, Sérémé D, Tiendrébéogo F, Djigma FW, Simpore J, Lacombe S. Virol J. 2019 Dec 30 ;16(1):167. doi : 10.1186/s12985-019-1263-0. Review. PMID : 31888686


BACKGROUND : Developing African countries face health problems that they struggle to solve. The major causes of this situation are high therapeutic and logistical costs. Plant-made therapeutics are easy to produce due to the lack of the safety considerations associated with traditional fermenter-based expression platforms, such as mammalian cells. Plant biosystems are easy to scale up and inexpensive, and they do not require refrigeration or a sophisticated medical infrastructure. These advantages provide an opportunity for plant-made pharmaceuticals to counteract diseases for which medicines were previously inaccessible to people in countries with few resources.
MAIN BODY : The techniques needed for plant-based therapeutic production are currently available. Viral expression vectors based on plant viruses have greatly enhanced plant-made therapeutic production and have been exploited to produce a variety of proteins of industrial, pharmaceutical and agribusiness interest. Some neglected tropical diseases occurring exclusively in the developing world have found solutions through plant bioreactor technology. Plant viral expression vectors have been reported in the production of therapeutics against these diseases occurring exclusively in the third world, and some virus-derived antigens produced in plants exhibit appropriate antigenicity and immunogenicity. However, all advances in the use of plants as bioreactors have been made by companies in Europe and America. The developing world is still far from acquiring this technology, although plant viral expression vectors may provide crucial help to overcome neglected diseases.
CONCLUSION : Today, interest in these tools is rising, and viral amplicons made in and for Africa are in progress. This review describes the biotechnological advances in the field of plant bioreactors, highlights factors restricting access to this technology by those who need it most and proposes a solution to overcome these limitations.
KEYWORDS : Developing African countries ; Neglected diseases ; Plant viral expression vectors ; Plant-made therapeutics ; Recombinant proteins

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