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Tobacco Based Ebola Serum Also Got Pentagon Funding

From Reuters:

Tobacco-derived ‘plantibodies’ enter the fight against Ebola

By Sharon Begley | August 6, 2014

NEW YORK  (Reuters) – Drugmakers’ use of the tobacco plant as a fast and cheap way to produce novel biotechnology treatments is gaining global attention because of its role in an experimental Ebola therapy…

In the case of the new Ebola treatment ZMapp, developed by Mapp Pharmaceuticals, the antibodies were produced in tobacco plants at Kentucky Bioprocessing, a unit of tobacco giant Reynolds American [sic!]. The tobacco-plant-produced monoclonals have been dubbed "plantibodies." …

RJ Reynolds. Big Tobacco!

PENTAGON FUNDING

In 2007, Kentucky Bioprocessing entered into an agreement with Mapp Biopharmaceutical and the Biodesign Institute of Arizona State University to refine the tobacco-plant approach. The approach attracted funding support from the Pentagon’s Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA).

So this Ebola serum is made by a big tobacco company (RJ Reynolds) using tobacco derivatives, and it was partially funded by the Pentagon?  Has there ever been a more politically incorrect serum in the history of the world? Maybe we shouldn’t give it to any other countries, after all.

For all the hope, however, the plant technique has delivered few commercial products… In 2012 the FDA okayed a drug for the rare genetic disorder Gaucher disease from Israel’s Protalix BioTherapeutics and Pfizer. Called Elelyso, it is made in carrot cells, and is the only such drug to reach the market.

Other companies have fallen far short, though it is not clear if the technique was to blame. Calgary-based SemBioSys Genetics Inc, which used safflowers to produce an experimental diabetes drug, folded in 2012 before it finished clinical trials.

Even Kentucky Bioprocessing, which at one point was developing monoclonal antibodies against HIV (the virus that causes AIDS), C. difficile bacterial infection, and the human papillomavirus, has dropped the last two projects, Howard said.

Last year Mitsubishi Tanabe Pharma Corp acquired a majority share of Quebec City-based Medicago, which is developing influenza and other vaccines using the tobacco-plant technology. The other 40 percent is owned by tobacco giant Philip Morris International.

Philip Morris! More criminals!

Meanwhile, there is this from the Los Angeles Times:

Boeing, South African Airways to develop jet fuel from tobacco

By Chad Garland | August 6, 2014

Boeing Co. is teaming with South African Airways and Dutch aviation biofuels company SkyNRG to develop jet fuel from a new type of tobacco plant.

The companies announced Wednesday the effort to develop the aviation biofuel, which they said would reduce pollution while bolstering the rural economy in South Africa.

Biofuels derived from organic sources such as plant and algae could reduce carbon emissions by as much as 80% compared with petroleum-based fuels, the companies said.

But what about the second hand smoke from the jet’s exhaust?

Farmers in South Africa could begin growing SkyNRG’s tobacco plant, called Solaris, as a biofuel feedstock in place of the conventional plant used by the tobacco industry. The Solaris plant is virtually free of nicotine, an addictive substance found in tobacco plants.

"By using hybrid tobacco, we can leverage knowledge of tobacco growers in South Africa to grow a marketable biofuel crop without encouraging smoking," said Ian Cruickshank, South African Airways Group environmental affairs specialist…

Thanks Gaia for that, at least. So there will be no risk of anyone becoming addicted to flying or hanging around airports.

This article was posted by Steve Gilbert on Friday, August 8th, 2014. Comments are currently closed.

One Response to “Tobacco Based Ebola Serum Also Got Pentagon Funding”

  1. Think nicotine and tomatoes


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