Nature and technology
Plants are versatile organisms living in every corner of the world where man would live and even in hostile places. Plants are endowed with a higher complement of genes compared to animals (including primates), reflecting an outstanding biochemical capabilities and the fulfillment of unique physiological responses. The ability to self-synthesize the essential constituents of life and an extremely diverse secondary metabolism are a clear indication of this. Such plurality of structures and functions is often associated with the natural tendency to produce pure lines or clones for the short-term diffusion of well-adapted genotypes in the environment. Moreover, a system for genetic transformation has evolved just in nature on charge of several plants; this system appears sophisticated and elegant but at the same time robust and reliable as appropriate for a biological process.
Since some decades, the increased knowledge of plant biochemistry, physiology and overall genetics has given the possibility to enter into a new relationship with plants, strengthening a co-evolutionary path that has found in crop plants a nodal point. As a matter of fact, it is possible to envisage plants as cell factories of industrial and commercial commodities. According to this view, Transactiva has developed different technologies to use plants in the synthesis and accumulation of therapeutic proteins with the ultimate objective to expand supply and, considering the high cost of biopharmaceuticals, to increase the access of patients to them.
Specifically, Transactiva has devised novel technological solutions to biopharmaceutical production through the study of the control elements of gene expression in plants and the subsequent design and testing of artificial elements combining positive features interspersed in nature. A remarkable experience has been gained in rice and tobacco where pharmaceutical production systems have been developed mimicking the accumulation of a storage protein in the seed and the supply of a photosynthetic protein in the leaf, respectively. Further, biological processes considered in plant molecular farming have been protein trafficking in cells, protein-protein and protein-environment interactions, gene silencing since all of them may affect the stability of expression and the bioequivalence of a drug in respect to the human counterpart.
Differently from biotech companies working on undifferentiated tissues or single cell lines, Transactiva has an invested interest on whole plants because of their high plasticity and adaptability. This approach demands a deeper connection with the living matter and the acknowledgement of complexity as a meaningful record of the expressive power of a rich and generous nature.