Life-Sciences Network Launches Online Dialogue on Plant-Made Pharmaceuticals

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Responding to a need for informed dialogue on plant-made pharmaceuticals (PMPs) and their potential to help combat life-threatening illness, the International Academy of Life Sciences (IALS) and U.S. partner the Biomedical Exchange Program (BMEP) has launched http://www.PlantPharma.org, an online community dedicated to science-based medically oriented dialogue on PMPs.

Responding to a need for informed dialogue on plant-made pharmaceuticals (PMPs) and their potential to help combat life-threatening illness, the International Academy of Life Sciences (IALS) and U.S. partner the Biomedical Exchange Program (BMEP) has launched http://www.PlantPharma.org, an online community dedicated to science-based medically oriented dialogue on PMPs.

"PMPs are getting increasing attention both in the U.S. and Europe for their potential to help the medical community treat diseases including cancer, heart disease, arthritis, and many more," said Dr. Hilmar Stolte, president of IALS, a global network of universities, medical schools, and related institutions that are dedicated to education, training and research in key issues associated with the life sciences.

"PlantPharma.org is designed to be a reliable source of information for physicians, scientists, journalists, the patient community, and others who are interested in the potential for PMPs or 'pharming' to expand and improve health care options for people of all ages," Stolte continued.

The site, located at http://www.PlantPharma.org, offers a variety of resources including PMP-related news; background materials such as white papers and peer-reviewed journal articles; an electronic newsletter; a calendar of upcoming events; and more. Visitors to the site may also join the community, share comments or news with other members and sign a declaration in favor of informed dialogue on PMPs.

New scientific discoveries involving therapeutic proteins offer exciting and promising hope for treating a range of diseases. Doing so in an effective and appropriate manner demands an informed dialogue on such challenges as producing these therapeutic proteins safely, economically, and in quantities that can be adjusted to meet growing needs.

Plant-made pharmaceuticals are one potential solution to manufacture these proteins in a manner that is easily scaleable, safe and cost-effective. In this process, pharm plants become factories that manufacture therapeutic proteins. These proteins are then extracted, refined, and used as the active ingredient in a pharmaceutical application.

In comparison with conventional production methods this process could save substantial amounts of time and money, enable more-easily scaleable production, and provide the ability to produce complex proteins that current systems may not.

"An open discussion about these issues among credible stakeholders including academics, scientists, the medical and patient communities and others is an essential step in creating greater understanding on the potential of this technology," said Dr. Robert Rich, an IALS founder, member of the BMEP and a professor of law and political science at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. "Given the potential for PMPs to make a real difference in the treatment options for sufferers of diseases including Alzheimer's, cystic fibrosis, HIV/AIDS and many more, the technology merits an informed and open discussion of its development, regulation and application.

"IALS and its community of academics, scientists, health-care professionals, consumers and others is committed to openly discussing the potentials and challenges of PMPs, with a goal of ensuring their maximum public benefits," he concluded.

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