Desription: molecular farming is a very important and useful application of genetic engineering in which genes, are introduced into plants or animals for cost effective production of therapeutic products such as antibodies, blood products, cytokines, growth factors, human and veterinary vaccines and recombinant enzymes. Therapeutic compounds which are produced in that way are called as biopharmaceuticals (pharmaceuticals from biological origin). Genes which are used are primarily of human or animal origin.
The organisms in which genes coding for the target therapeutically active compound introduced are often referred to as expression system. Expression system studied so far include bacteria, yeast, plant viruses, animal cell culture, transgenic plants and transgenic animals. Initially bacteria were the most widely used expression systems but due to the complexity of the most therapeutic proteins to be produced and simplicity of the bacterial system, new expression systems were explored, as of now the plants are preferred and most widely used expression system in comparison to other systems. The first recombinant pharmaceutical protein produced in the plant was human serum albumin, first produced in 1990 in transgenic tobacco and potato plants.
Plants are used as bioreactor for the production of antibodies, polymers etc. plants are easy to grow and can generate considerable biomass, that is the reason the transgenic plants are used for the production of commercial protein and chemicals. Plants have been used to produce monoclonal antibodies (plantibodies), the polymer polyhydroxybutyrate, which can be used to make a biodegradable plastic material and a number of potential therapeutical agents like anticoagulant, human growth and human erythroprotein etc. the term plantibody is used for antibodies that are synthesized in transgenic plants. The difference between plantibodies and edible vaccines is that plantibodies are pre-made antibodies that are produced in the transgenic plants whereas edible vaccines promote the production of specific antibodies by the human immune system once the vaccine is administered to the patient. Plantibodies are advantageous for people who are immunosuppressed and are unable to produce antibodies even after they are vaccinated. An edible vaccine, in contrast to traditional vaccines, would not require elaborate production facilities.

Author: Dr. Preetpal Kaur