Fraunhofer IME has started project Molecular Farming on May 2005
[Fraunhofer Society, 2005; By anonymous] In many cases, the potential of many microbial and animal cell systems for the production of large quantities of recombinant proteins is limited. Molecular farming in plants has a number of advantages over these conventional processes. The production of plant-made pharmaceuticals and technical proteins is known as Molecular Farming. Molecular Farming has the potential to provide virtually unlimited quantities of recombinant antibodies, vaccines, blood substitutes, growth factor, cytokines, chemokines and enzymes for use as diagnostic and therapeutic tools in health care, the life sciences and the chemical industry.Plants can produce functional recombinant proteins on a large scale at relatively low cost and effort and with also no risk of contamination of the product. The production of recombinant therapeutic protein e.g. Interferon Alpha in tobacco produces the highest biomass per hectare and year and giving the very high product yield. In addition, tobacco is not a human or animal foodstuff, which precludes the possibility of entering the food chain (which is important consideration, especially when the protein is destined for pharmaceutical applications
The Molecular Farming project will produce three highly valuable pharmaceuticals proteins, which are: human serum albumin (HSA), human interferon-alpha (IFN- 2), and human anti-cancer antibody (MUC-1) in tobacco plants. This project has already accepted the approval funding from the German Federal Ministry of Education and Science (BMBF) in May 2005.
The frame of this project is the co-operation between Germany and Indonesia (Indonesian-Germany Biotechnology Programme). The 2 plus 2 under this scheme requires involvement of research Institutes and companies from Germany and Indonesia. The cooperation partners in this project are Fraunhofer-Institute for Molecular Biology and Applied Ecology (FhG-IME), which is lead by Dr. Stefan Schillberg and Indonesian Institute of Sciences (LIPI), which is lead by Dr. Arief Budi Witarto. PT. Kimia Farma, a pharmaceutical company from Indonesia, has already signed a Memorandum of Understanding on March 2005 to give their commitment for industrial up scaling in Indonesia.