Plant Science

HIV antivirals from engineered soybeans

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Science  13 Feb 2015:
Vol. 347, Issue 6223, pp. 733
DOI: 10.1126/science.347.6223.733-a

Engineered soybeans could produce key antiviral

PHOTO: © DESIGN PICS INC/ALAMY

Affordable antivirals used as vaginal microbicides could have a substantial impact on the HIV epidemic, particularly in the developing world. One potential candidate is cyanovirin-N, a protein produced by a cyanobacterium that prevents viral entry in preclinical studies. Large-scale production of cyanovirin-N, however, is prohibitively expensive. To get around this, O'Keefe et al. genetically engineered soybean seeds to make cyanovirin-N. The seeds produced large quantities of the antiviral and it survived the normal industrial processing systems already in place for soybeans. By rough estimate, one greenhouse growing engineered soybeans could provide enough cyanovirin-N to protect a woman for 90 years.

Plant Biotech. J. 10.1111/pbi.12309 (2015).

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