Israeli company CollPlant Ltd., that has developed a transgenic tobacco plant expressing some human genes, has secured a venture capital infusion to further its technology, according to Globes [online]. Transgenic tobacco plants have been the talk of the industry for a while now, and have been displayed for the last 3 years on Wired’s NextFest as promising manufacturers of vaccines. This is the first time we see a company come up with a plant that produces human collagen:
CollPlant Ltd. has developed a transgenic tobacco plant co-expressing high levels of Human collagen type I alpha 1 and alpha 2 chains together with two human enzymes that have been previously shown to naturally modify collagen type I in human cells: Proline-4-hydroxylase (P4H-alpha and beta subunits) and Lysine hydroxylase 3 (LH3).
The transgenic tobacco plant successfully co-expresses the five human proteins resulting in accurate assembly of triple helical collagen molecules stable at 43°C as indicated by lack of proteolysis and in this respect similar to collagen type I naturally present in human tissues.
The thermal stability of the plant-produced collagen indicates correct modifications of collagen chains by the co-expressed modifying enzymes. High molecular weight collagen complexes indicate intra-inter molecular cross links formed in the collagen triple helices produced in plant. Similar cross-links are formed in collagen type I naturally present in human tissues. These covalent cross-links are major factors affecting collagen stability and determine the functional durability of collagen matrices in humans.
Finally, as indicated by the CollPlant transgenic plant results thus far, plant produces recombinant human Type I collagen which is identical to collagen naturally present in humans with respect to the amino acid sequences and which suggests identity to human collagen in terms of molecular structure and stability. Nevertheless there are still more test to be done to approve the preliminary results.