Benefits and risks of antibody and vaccine production in transgenic plants

Heribert Warzecha, Hugh S. Mason

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

30 Scopus citations


Phytopharming, the production of protein biologicals in recombinant plant systems, has shown great promise in studies performed over the past 13 years. A secretory antibody purified from transgenic tobacco was tested successfully in humans, and prevented bacterial re-colonization after topical application in the mouth. Rapid production of patient-tailored anti-lymphoma antibodies in recombinant Tobamovirus-infected tobacco may provide effective cancer therapy. Many different candidate vaccines from bacterial and viral sources have been expressed in transgenic plants, and three human clinical trials with oral delivery of transgenic plant tissues have shown exciting results. The use of crop plants with agricultural practice could allow cheap production of valuable proteins, while providing enhanced safety by avoidance of animal viruses or other contaminants. However development of this technology must carefully consider the means to ensure the separation of food and medicinal products when crop plants are used for phytopharming.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)755-764
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Plant Physiology
Issue number7
StatePublished - Aug 1 2003
Externally publishedYes


  • Edible vaccine
  • Therapeutic antibody
  • Transgenic plants

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • Agronomy and Crop Science
  • Plant Science


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