Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Searching For Pharmaceutical Proteins, Insect Researchers Just Say 'Grow'

Date:
September 26, 1997
Source:
Cornell University
Summary:
They go from bugs to drugs. Thanks to the confluence of a new technology in virology and a recent patent in rearing insects, scientists at the Boyce Thompson Institute for Plant Research Inc. (BTI), located at Cornell University, have found a better way to produce commercial quantities of recombinant pharmaceutical proteins -- out of insect larvae.

ITHACA, N.Y. -- They go from bugs to drugs. Thanks to the confluence of anew technology in virology and a recent patent in rearing insects,scientists at the Boyce Thompson Institute for Plant Research Inc. (BTI),located at Cornell University, have found a better way to producecommercial quantities of recombinant pharmaceutical proteins -- out ofinsect larvae.

"These are valuable proteins, and they can't be produced this well anyother way," said H. Alan Wood, a virologist at BTI. "Essentially, this isa protein factory. We are using insects to raise raw pharmaceuticalproteins. In effect, we are turning insects into little protein factories."

Originally, the researchers were exploring ways to safely combatagricultural pests through biological means, but in their research theylearned that the proteins from these nearly dead pests could directlybenefit humanity. Recombinant baculoviruses have been used before todevelop a panorama of pharmaceutical proteins but were made using theinsect cell culture method, a time-consuming, and expensive process.

Scientists can harvest the beneficial protein from the infected larvae oflepidoptera -- moths and caterpillars. Genetically engineeredbaculoviruses, which are viruses shaped like rods, attack the inside of thelarvae, initiate a wholesale, metabolic change and kill the insect.

"The baculovirus literally turns the insect to liquid," said Patrick R.Hughes, BTI researcher. "Right before the insect dies, we harvest theprotein, and the protein can be refined into pharmaceuticals."

The virus spreads through the caterpillar within 24 hours, but the bugcontinues to grow, spreading virus through the caterpillar's body for threedays. Just prior to the fourth day, or the fifth larval stage, theproteins being grown in the bug are ready for harvest. Hughes says the bugnever reaches pupation, and if the protein is not harvested from thecaterpillar during this crucial larval stage, the proteins are destroyed.

Farming the pharmaceuticals becomes easy using a recently patented systemcalled HeRD -- the high-efficiency rearing device. Developed at BTI, HeRDcan raise thousands of insects all at once to produce protein, thusreducing the expense. Using the HeRD system, the BTI researchers aregrowing caterpillars -- Trichoplusia ni -- a pest best known as the cabbagelooper, which feeds on cabbage, cotton and crucifers.

But the insects are living on the edge. "Patrick [Hughes] is a veryobservant man and because he's observant, he came up with a brilliant idea-- the HeRD system," Wood said. What Hughes observed is that insectsprefer getting their footing on the edges of surfaces, not directly on flatsurfaces. Hughes developed a box full of close-spaced pillars -- pillarsshaped like small popsicle sticks -- and puts the insects in the box. Healso put food in the box. The insects are reared on the pillars in thebox, making it easy to infect them with baculovirus and then harvest theproteins.

In the past 18 months, researchers report that recombinant baculovirus havebeen used for vaccine production. Some of the diseases that can be foughtinclude human papillomavirus, human T-cell leukemia virus, hepatitis-Cvirus, Norwalk virus, rotavirus, porcine parvovirus and African swine fevervirus. BTI researchers do not directly study these diseases.

Producing proteins through insects was seen as an alternative to raisingproteins in cell culture, Hughes said. For a while, it appeared as ifraising the proteins in cell culture was less expensive, but rearingproteins in insects is substantially less expensive than cell cultures."We don't have the many technical barriers we had before," he said.

Hughes and Wood have published their presentation, "Recombinant ViralInsecticides: Delivery of Environmentally Safe and Cost-EffectiveProducts," in the July 24, 1997, edition of the journal Entomophaga, thepublication of the International Organization for Biological Control ofNoxious Animals and Plants.

In addition to pharmaceuticals, the researchers said that the technologiesinvolved could be used for other purposes, like manufacturing inexpensiveviral insecticides as alternatives to pesticides. Wood and Hughes saidthat with more than 30,000 chemical pesticide registrations being canceledin the past eight years, there is a need to develop natural and geneticbaculoviruses. The researchers believe that to make these insecticidescommercially viable, methods like HeRD will need to be employed to bringcosts down.

BTI, the Boyce Thompson Institute for Plant Research Inc., is the largestnon-profit, independent plant research facility in the world. It wasfounded in 1924, by Col. William Boyce Thompson in Yonkers, N.Y. Thepurpose of the institute was to find ways to meet the food and health needsof an increasing world population. BTI moved to the Cornell campus in1978.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Cornell University. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Cornell University. "Searching For Pharmaceutical Proteins, Insect Researchers Just Say 'Grow'." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 26 September 1997. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/1997/09/970926050149.htm>.
Cornell University. (1997, September 26). Searching For Pharmaceutical Proteins, Insect Researchers Just Say 'Grow'. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 25, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/1997/09/970926050149.htm
Cornell University. "Searching For Pharmaceutical Proteins, Insect Researchers Just Say 'Grow'." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/1997/09/970926050149.htm (accessed July 25, 2014).

Share This




More Plants & Animals News

Friday, July 25, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

How to Make Single Serving Smoothies: Howdini Hacks

How to Make Single Serving Smoothies: Howdini Hacks

Howdini (July 24, 2014) Smoothies are a great way to get in lots of healthy ingredients, plus they taste great! Howdini has a trick for making the perfect single-size smoothie that will save you time on cleanup too! All you need is a blender and a mason jar. Video provided by Howdini
Powered by NewsLook.com
Boy Attacked by Shark in Florida

Boy Attacked by Shark in Florida

Reuters - US Online Video (July 24, 2014) An 8-year-old boy is bitten in the leg by a shark while vacationing at a Florida beach. Linda So reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Goma Cheese Brings Whiff of New Hope to DRC

Goma Cheese Brings Whiff of New Hope to DRC

Reuters - Business Video Online (July 24, 2014) The eastern region of the Democratic Republic of Congo, mainly known for conflict and instability, is an unlikely place for the production of fine cheese. But a farm in the village of Masisi, in North Kivu is slowly transforming perceptions of the area. Known simply as Goma cheese, the Congolese version of Dutch gouda has gained popularity through out the region. Ciara Sutton reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Tyrannosaur Pack-Hunting Theory Aided By New Footprints

Tyrannosaur Pack-Hunting Theory Aided By New Footprints

Newsy (July 24, 2014) A new study claims a set of prehistoric T-Rex footprints supports the theory that the giant predators hunted in packs instead of alone. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

    Health News

      Environment News

        Technology News



          Save/Print:
          Share:

          Free Subscriptions


          Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

          Get Social & Mobile


          Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

          Have Feedback?


          Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
          Mobile: iPhone Android Web
          Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
          Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
          Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins