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Penn Dental Study Finds Promising Plant-Based Hemophilia Therapy

Freeze dried lettuce containing a protein of interest. PHOTO COURTESY OF UNNIVERSITY OF PENNSLYVANIA

Researchers from University of Pennsylvania School of Dental Medicine, University of Florida and University of North Carolina have developed a therapy to prevent the development of antibodies that work against the clotting factor in patients with hemophilia. In the study, led by Henry Daniell, PhD, director of Translational Research at Penn Dental Medicine, researchers used clotting factor produced in plant cells to instruct the body to accept rather than block it. Daniell’s past research focused on implementing codon optimization to create a genetic engineering technique that persuades lettuce and tobacco plants to produce foreign proteins

In the most recent study, published in Molecular Therapy, four hemophilia B dogs were fed freeze-dried lettuce powder/clotting factor for more than 300 days; they also received weekly injections of clotting factor IX for eight weeks. The dogs in the control group that did not receive the lettuce powder developed significant levels of antibodies against clotting factor IX, as compared to the experimental group, in which three of the four dogs had only minimal levels of antibody IgG2, and no detectable levels of IgG1 or IgE. Levels of IgG2 were 32 times lower in the treated dogs than in the control group.

​​​​​​​“The results were quite dramatic,” Daniell told Penn News. “We corrected blood clotting time in each of the dogs and were able to suppress antibody formation, as well. All signs point to this material being ready for the clinic.”

The next steps for the research team include additional toxicology and pharmacokinetics studies before applying for an Investigational New Drug application with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration before the end of the year, according to Penn News. Read more at news.upenn.edu/news/plant-made-hemophilia-therapy-shows-promise-penn-study-finds


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