One Day, Plants Could Grow Your Meds, Say U of G Researchers

May 24, 2024

“Is this insulin animal-free?” 

In a future where major medications – like insulin, cancer treatments and life-saving vaccines – are grown from plants, such a question is valid. 

Though the Canadian Food Inspection Agency has said, “There is no commercial plant molecular farming in Canada to date, and none is anticipated in the near future,” University of Guelph researchers disagree

As Dr. Jennifer Geddes-McAlister, professor in the College of Biological Science puts it, there is no reason plants should not be making our drugs right now:

“In theory, it should already be happening,” she says. “Because the promise is there. The setup and infrastructure are there. The research is there. The biggest hurdle is reducing variability in drug production.”

These are the current aims of molecular pharming, the field that uses plants, rather than costly animal cells and materials, to produce our pharmaceuticals.

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