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publicado em 18/04/2011 às 10h45:00
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GM plants are alternative against dengue

State University of Ceara, the string bean is to produce the protein of dengue virus and get the vaccine

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Two surveys conducted in Brazil seek the production of medicines from the genetic modification of plants to diagnose and immunize the population against all four dengue serotypes. State University of Ceará, the Laboratory of Human Biochemistry uses the string bean to produce the protein of the virus and get the vaccine. At the University of Brasilia (UNB), the Department of Cell Biology tries to produce a part of the virus with lettuce and create a reagent to detect the disease.

The intention of the researchers at UNB is to assemble a kit for the diagnosis to be cheaper than the animal (mouse), whose Brazilian demand depends on part imported from Australia. The kit will be produced with a reagent in which lettuce was injected the gene of dengue virus. The transgenic lettuce produce a defective viral particle that will be utilized in the reagent be mixed with blood collected. As a reaction, the product will indicate whether the patient has antibodies to dengue virus.

According to researcher Tatsuya Nagata, a virologist at the Microscopy Laboratory, attached to the Department of Cell Biology, UNB, the lettuce is more efficient than bacteria and yeasts traditionally used in vaccine production. Bacteria and yeast have a cell system more primitive than the lettuce. The cellular system of the plant is closest to humans, he says.

Nagata says there are advantages to using a vegetable instead of reagents taken directly from animals. First, the fact is, not using animals in research, not having to euthanize them. The other advantage is that laboratory technicians are not at risk of contamination during the injection in mice.

The research reagents still has two years still to run, and the materials will be tested on blood infected with dengue and already stored by the Oswaldo Cruz Foundation (Fiocruz). The genetically modified lettuce is kept in a secure and separate. Nagata not rule out the hypothesis that in the future, the lettuce itself can be used as a vaccine. The methodology is suggesting this, but [the idea] is still not accepted by experts in immunization, because the dosage has to be properly measured.

In the case of cowpea, the purpose is to draw directly from the plant, the protein for the vaccine. We put it in a vector genes that produce protein and the envelope of the four serotypes of the dengue virus. Next, we introduced into plant cells, "explains Maria Izabel Florindo biochemical pa Guedes, who led the study at the State University of Ceará.

According to Maria Isabel, as the plants grow, the proteins of the dengue virus will multiply. It is as if the plant is transformed into a bio-factory for large amounts of proteins of dengue virus. After a few days, the plants are collected, crushed and the virus proteins are extracted (purified) added the biochemist.

She said the vaccine candidates have been used to immunize mice. The results obtained so far show that, due to high levels of antibodies induced by heterologous proteins [made] produced in plants, the proposal is feasible and could open prospects for the production of the first vaccine effective and low cost against dengue.

As this is a medicine for the immunization of people, the vaccine extracted from genetically modified cowpea still go through extensive clinical study, which has not projected to begin, says the researcher responsible. To be used in Brazil, every product must be registered with the Health Surveillance Agency (Anvisa).

   Palavras-chave:   Plant    Genetic Modification    Immunization    Vaccine    Reagent   
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