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Growing drugs inside plants -- instead of making them in factories --
could soon be big business with the U.S. market alone potentially worth $2.2
billion by 2011, according to a report - January 2005.
A number of companies are currently looking at ways to make complex drugs,
such as antibodies and vaccines, inside genetically modified corn and other
farm crops. The first commercially available drugs made this way could be
available around 2006, according to consultancy firm Frost & Sullivan.
"There is currently a shortfall in biopharmaceutical manufacturing
facilities, which leaves great market potential for biopharmaceuticals
produced from plants," Frost & Sullivan analyst Phil Webster said.
A number of start-up biotechnology companies are working in the area and
some large multinational firms, such as Switzerland's Syngenta AG and
U.S.-based Dow Chemical Co , have also invested in the idea.
But so-called biopharming faces significant challenges -- not least
overcoming public fears that creating new crops engineered to make medicines
could jeopardise the food supply.
The nascent biopharming business suffered a setback in 2002 when plants from
a test crop grown by U.S. firm ProdiGene Inc contaminated a soybean crop
grown for food the following year.
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