Medicine may grow on trees


What our research is about, discovering novel
peptides or mini proteins from plants and animals and then using those peptides as leads
in drug design, so we basically discovered the peptides and then chemically re-engineered
them so that we can turn them into drugs. We’re really excited about receiving a Clive
and Vera Ramaciotti Foundation grant for a Million dollars to promote research in using
plants as factories for producing next generation medicines. Basically we’ve discovering novel
peptides from plants and then re-engineering them and then what we want to do is put the
genes back into pot plants for example soy beans, so that we can use the plant as the
factory for producing large amounts of these peptide based drugs. Basically that will allow
us to produce these drugs very cheaply and also open up opportunities for people for
example to grow medicines in their own backyards. The money will allow us to do two things,
first of all buy some equipment that will allow us to detect these novel designer proteins
in plants and also look at their distribution of animals for example, but also employ people
to drive this new facility where we’ll be able to put the genes into pot plants. So
it’s a combination of equipment and people and it also opens opportunity for example
for recruiting new PhD students into the program. Look, we’re really excited about this technology
and without wanting to overstate it, it really could revolutionise the way in which we take
drugs in the future, rather than a tablet, swallow a sunflower seed or a soya bean seed
as the bio pill as the medicine.

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