martes, octubre 26, 2004

CAPE TOWN, South Africa -- Most people probably wouldn't associate the leafy green tobacco plant with saving lives. But to Dr. Blessed Okole, the maligned cash crop is a potential gold mine of affordable medicine and vaccines for the overlooked diseases afflicting the developing world.

In the laboratories of the Council for Science and Industrial Research, or CSIR, South African researchers are honing techniques for turning genetically engineered tobacco and other crops into factories for producing drugs for HIV and tuberculosis. With a bit of genetic engineering, Okole says, plants' cellular machinery can be tweaked to produce antibodies on a large scale and far more cheaply than conventional drug-manufacturing methods allow.

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