A plant that could well save the lives of thousands….
Genetic modification—biotechnology vilified in some quarters as a violation of nature–has proved key in saving the lives of two Americans infected by the deadly Ebola virus.
When American Ebola patient Dr. Kent Brantly arrived in Atlanta, Georgia, Aug. 2, he had reportedly already had one course of treatment with an experimental drug called ZMAPP made with genetically engineered tobacco.
MAPP is produced by a small San Diego-based biotech company. The scientists use a common tobacco bacteria, genetically engineered with different components of the Ebola virus, to infect a large number of plants. The infection spurs the plants to make antibodies to the virus, including the pieces of viral Ebola DNA. The tobacco is then crushed up and the ebola serum is extracted. It contains antibodies that target several parts of the virus.
Probably not until their next fever hits.