The Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) in Britain has approved human trials of a synthetic anti-HIV drug that has been developed from genetically modified plants.
The trial is being conducted in Guildford at the clinical research centre of the University of Surrey with 11 healthy women volunteering for the study. Two of the women have been given the antibody while around four will be placed in the control group and given placebo.
Funded by the European Union, the drug, called P2G12, is a part of the project known as Pharma-Planta which is looking into the possibility of producing drugs from genetically modified plants. If successful, the project will allow the development of inexpensive drugs especially for people living in the developing world.
"The approval from the MHRA for us to proceed with human trials is an acknowledgement that monoclonal antibodies can be made in plants to the same quality as those made using existing conventional production systems. That is something many people did not believe could not be achieved", the joint coordinator of the project, Dr Julian Ma said.