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Dr. Slavko Komarnytsky Contributes Chapter to New Book

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A North Carolina State University professor is one of the authors of a new book about using antibodies to deliver drugs more accurately to diagnose and treat various diseases.

Dr. Slavko Komarnytsky, a metabolic biologist and assistant professor with the N.C. State University Department of Food, Bioprocessing and Nutrition Sciences and the Plants for Human Health Institute at the N.C. Research Campus in Kannapolis, wrote a chapter of the new book, “Antibody-Mediated Drug Delivery Systems,” edited by Yashwant Pathak and Simon Benita. The contributing authors represent more than 10 different countries, covering recent developments around the globe. The book was published by John Wiley & Sons, Inc.

Antibodies are proteins that play a central role in the body’s immune system by identifying and neutralizing foreign objects such as bacteria and viruses. The book focuses on the use of monoclonal antibodies to help diagnose and treat diseases. Monoclonal antibodies are made in the lab rather than by a person’s own immune system. The book includes information on using monoclonal antibodies to treat cancer, pulmonary and ocular diseases and to deliver drugs and vaccines to target organs. Antibody-based therapies hold promise in targeting malignant cells while sparing normal cells. Such targeted approaches are employed to reduce the nonspecific toxicity of chemotherapy and to improve the efficacy of the treatment.

According to the editors, the field of antibody-mediated delivery systems has developed rapidly since the first book was published in 1988 and this new book aims “to provide medical and scientific researchers and students working in this field with an up-to-date, practical, all-encompassing reference source on the concept, analytical development, antibody processing, and applications of antibody-mediated drug delivery systems.”

Dr. Komarnytsky’s chapter, co-authored with Nikolai Borisjuk, of Biotechnology Foundation Laboratories at Thomas Jefferson University in Philadelphia, is titled “Plant-derived Antibodies for Academic, Industrial, and Therapeutic Applications.”  The chapter includes an historical perspective of molecular pharming, information on plant-based production of recombinant proteins, protein expression in an entire plant versus a plant organ, expression in seeds and recent examples of plant-derived antibodies effective in animals.

“Plant-derived antibodies offer a wide range of applications in biomedical research and metabolic engineering, and as clinical diagnostic or therapeutic agents,” according to the editors. “The increasing number of plant antibody-based products entering clinical trials and the market indicates an exponential growth of activities in this field. This technology is just beginning to mature,” they added.

“Proteins for pharmaceutical use have been produced in a number of plants, such as maize, rice, wheat, soybeans, tobacco and tomatoes,” explained Dr. Komarnytsky. “Their benefits are lower manufacturing costs, relative to animal cell culture, and a reduced risk of transmission of animal pathogens. Now that Good Manufacturing Practices systems are available for whole plants, it is likely that the plant-based protein pipeline will advance rapidly with novel antibody and vaccine candidates.”

Dr. Komarnytsky currently is studying tobacco, which could potentially be a host plant for the production of helpful proteins.

“I’m pleased to join with other researchers around the world to contribute to this important body of knowledge contained in this new book,” Dr. Kormarnytsky added. “I hope it will help lead to new breakthroughs, particularly as we seek to understand how to develop recombinant antibody manufacturing in plants that can provide pharmaceutical or other benefits to human health.”

Writer: Leah Chester-Davis