Plant Molecular Farming: A Promising Stratergy in Biotechnology
The improvement of agricultural crop plants relied largely on the conventional breeding programs to increase the productivity, alter the quality characteristics or impart resistance to biotic or abiotic stresses. However, with the advancement of molecular biology techniques it has become possible to introduce entirely new characteristics efficiently through insertion of the genes coding for the desired characteristics directly into the genome of the plant or animal. Also, these techniques have made possible to introduce non-native genes from varied sources, thus tailoring the plant or animal to produce entirely new products for innovative applications. A large number of recombinant proteins have been produced in plants over the last twenty years, demonstrating the ability of plants to compete with existing industrial production systems. The use of plants for producing recombinant proteins has been termed as “Molecular Farming” and its rapid progress is driven by the several advantages provided by the plant expression systems. In this review we discuss the advantages of using plant as expression systems, type of biomolecules and recent examples, the plant endomembrane system, downstream processing of recombinant proteins in plants, different novel plant-derived pharmaceuticals and non-pharmaceutical proteinproducts that are at various stages of clinical development or commercialization thereby making plant based production system suitable alternatives to the existing system. It also attempts to overview the challenges and future of plant molecular farming technology and biosafety of molecular farming products which are crucial to eliminate the potential health and environmental risks, thus ensuring the success of this system.