Investing in Plant-Made Pharmaceuticals

The steadily rising cost of healthcare and the high prices of modern biotechnology drugs lead many experts to predict that new policies and new technologies will soon be forthcoming. New policies may include price controls or economic incentives to reduce costs. New technologies may include methods to improve manufacturing efficiency while reducing costs of making the biotech medicines of the future.

One area of research that holds the promise of reducing costs and improving worldwide access to the benefits of biotech is the production of therapeutic proteins and vaccines in living green plants. This technology has demonstrated its scientific value repeatedly. This technology is not yet in mainstream pharmceutical industry use, but it may be a very good time for an investor to seriously consider taking a stake in its bright future.

There are three little known companies leading the research pack in this new green revolution. Sembiosys Genetics Inc of Calgary, Alberta (Toronto: SBS) is producing insulin in plants, and through its subsidiary, Botaneco, is collaborating with MannKind Corporation (Nasdaq:MNKD) on its commercial development.

In Newark, Delaware, iBioPharma Inc (OTCBB: IBPM) is collaborating with the Fraunhofer U.S.A. Center for Molecular Biotechnology, with funding by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, to develop plant-made vaccines for influenza and other infectious diseases. IBioPharma recently announced new funding from the U.S. Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency for further development of green plant technology to meet various biodefense objectives.

The third company is still private, but well-financed and worth keeping an eye on. Biolex Therapeutics is developing human interferon made in a small floating plant called duck weed, and has already advanced its candidate product into phase 2 human clinical trials.

We all know that fruits and vegetables are essential for good health. These plant-made pharmaceutical companies may turn out to be good for both our health and our stock portfolios.

Note: the writer does not currently hold any position in the stocks discussed in this article. The contents of this article are intended for information purposes only and are not a recommendation to buy any particular security.

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