Researchers report that they've been able to use tobacco plants as biological factories to manufacture specialized proteins needed for an experimental individualized cancer therapy. They are studying one type of cancer, a potentially fatal form of non-Hodgkin's lymphoma.
The technique is still in its early days. While the researchers showed in this "Phase I" trial that the approach could produce the needed proteins, and that the protein could be safely injected into cancer patients and produce an immune response, there is still no data on whether the approach will actually be useful in cancer therapy.
Ronald Levy, one of the researchers on the project, discusses the work, which appears in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, and its prospects for the future.