Washington, June 28 : Scientists from Wageningen University and Research Centre in the Netherlands have made a breakthrough in plant medicine production, by unravelling and manipulating the glycosylation of proteins in plants.
It is believed that this knowledge may be put to use by allowing plants to be applied more often in the production of therapeutic proteins, an important type of medicine.
In fact, this discovery geld with the technology developed by the Wageningen UR research institute Plant Research International for the production of biopharmaceuticals in plants.
In a process known as glycosylation, proteins in plants, animals and people are seen with various sugar chains, which play a vital role in the functioning of many proteins. In addition, their identity and uniformity is crucial to the quality of therapeutic proteins.
Glycosylation basically involves three stages- firstly, chains are constructed, and then attach to the protein in specific locations and finally the sugar chains are further modified as specific sugars are attached to the chain.
"We are the first institute in the world to identify a gene in plants that is involved in the construction of these sugar chains, the first stage in glycosylation. It seems that the chains become increasingly uniform as the expression of this gene is reduced," The Science Daily quoted scientist Maurice Henquet, as saying.
This results in the development of mainly a single type of chain, a relatively simple one. Thus, the sugar chains attached to the proteins are a better starting point for making adjustments that are designed to optimise the biological function as medicine.
"From now on we will be able to improve the manipulation of glycosylation. And plants will become even more suitable for medicine production," added Henquet.