Hemophilia is a debilitating disorder that causes one’s blood to clot abnormally due to the lack of sufficient blood-clotting proteins. I, personally, have family members who have this disorder and mind you, it is not easy.
They have to spend a lot of money every year just for check-ups, not to mention when complications arise. A normal cut or bruise may be alright for us but for these people, it can cause problems needing immediate medical assistance. This condition is a big problem and a great disturbance for the rest of their lives.
Today, regular infusions of clotting factor were used to help with these uncontrolled bleeding but a significant fraction of people with hemophilia have developed antibodies against such. This motivated a group of researchers to develop a possible therapy to prevent these antibodies from developing.
They’ve created a protein drug from plant cells to enable the body to tolerate rather than block these life-saving clotting-factor infusions. Specifically, they have focused on hemophilia B, a rarer form of disease in which patients have deficiencies in clotting factor IX. They’ve developed this through lettuce plants grown in a hydroponic facility. This lettuce was modified, producing a fusion protein containing human clotting factor IX and the cholera non-toxin B subunit.
“The latter component helps the fused protein cross the intestinal lining as the lettuce cells are digested by gut microbes while the plant cell walls protect the clotting factor from digestion in the stomach. The lettuce plants were grown in a hydroponic facility, “as PennNews explained.
They have tested these in dogs and the results looked promising.
“Looking at the dogs that were fed the lettuce materials, you can see it’s quite effective,” says Henry Daniell, a professor in Penn Dental Medicine’s Department of Biochemistry, director of translational research, and the senior author of the study. “They either developed no antibodies to factor IX, or their antibodies went up just a little bit and then came down.”
This could give hope for an eventual human treatment.