Planting the seed: plant-based biologics for the expansion of therapeutic stem cells


The full realization of the therapeutic potential of stem cells has only recently come into the forefront of regenerative medicine. Promising in vivo results have fueled the enthusiasm among basic researchers and their clinical colleagues and thus have widened the scope of stem cell application in human disease but major scientific and regulatory challenges exist and must be addressed in order to both facilitate the “bench to bedside” process of this nascent technology as well as enhance safety of the final cell product. One potential key to advancing stem cell therapies is described in the recent benchmark publication entitled “Application of recombinant human leukemia inhibitor factor (LIF) produced in rice (Oryza sativa L.) for maintenance of mouse embryonic stem cells” by Youngblood et al. This paper describes how we expressed the human LIF protein (rhLIF) in rice grain using a plant-based expression platform (ExpressTec) and demonstrated a 97% purity of the protein. Subsequent biochemical analysis of the rhLIF showed similar biochemical characteristics as compared to rhLIF derived from E. coli.
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