Matching Items (6)

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Diet as a double-edged sword: the pharmacological properties of food among the Waorani hunter-gatherers of Amazonian Ecuador

Description

Food system and health characteristics were evaluated across the last Waorani hunter-gatherer group in Amazonian Ecuador and a remote neighboring Kichwa indigenous subsistence agriculture community. Hunter-gatherer food systems like the

Food system and health characteristics were evaluated across the last Waorani hunter-gatherer group in Amazonian Ecuador and a remote neighboring Kichwa indigenous subsistence agriculture community. Hunter-gatherer food systems like the Waorani foragers may not only be nutritionally, but also pharmaceutically beneficial because of high dietary intake of varied plant phytochemical compounds. A modern diet that reduces these dietary plant defense phytochemicals below levels typical in human evolutionary history may leave humans vulnerable to diseases that were controlled through a foraging diet. Few studies consider the health impact of the recent drastic reduction of plant phytochemical content in the modern global food system, which has eliminated essential components of food because they are not considered "nutrients". The antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory nature of the food system may not only regulate infectious pathogens and inflammatory disease, but also support beneficial microbes in human hosts, reducing vulnerability to chronic diseases. Waorani foragers seem immune to certain infections with very low rates of chronic disease. Does returning to certain characteristics of a foraging food system begin to restore the human body microbe balance and inflammatory response to evolutionary norms, and if so, what implication does this have for the treatment of disease? Several years of data on dietary and health differences across the foragers and the farmers was gathered. There were major differences in health outcomes across the board. In the Waorani forager group there were no signs of infection in serious wounds such as 3rd degree burns and spear wounds. The foragers had one-degree lower body temperature than the farmers. The Waorani had an absence of signs of chronic diseases including vision and blood pressure that did not change markedly with age while Kichwa farmers suffered from both chronic diseases and physiological indicators of aging. In the Waorani forager population, there was an absence of many common regional infectious diseases, from helminthes to staphylococcus. Study design helped control for confounders (exercise, environment, genetic factors, non-phytochemical dietary intake). This study provides evidence of the major role total phytochemical dietary intake plays in human health, often not considered by policymakers and nutritional and agricultural scientists.

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Created

Date Created
  • 2012

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Plant-made biologics: human butyrylcholinesterase mutants for the treatment of cocaine addiction-related diseases

Description

Cocaine abuse affects millions of people with disastrous medical and societal consequences. Despite this, there is still no FDA-approved treatment to decrease the likelihood of relapse in rehabilitated addicts, and

Cocaine abuse affects millions of people with disastrous medical and societal consequences. Despite this, there is still no FDA-approved treatment to decrease the likelihood of relapse in rehabilitated addicts, and acute cocaine toxicity (overdose) is only symptomatically treated. Studies have demonstrated a promising potential treatment option with the help of the human serum enzyme butyrylcholinesterase (BChE), an enzyme capable of breaking down cocaine into biologically inactive side products. This activity of wild-type BChE, however, is relatively low. This prompted the design of variants of BChE which exhibit significantly improved catalytic activity against cocaine. Plants were used as a sustainable, scalable, affordable platform system to produce large amounts of human biologics such as these cocaine hydrolase variants of BChE. Using a tobacco relative, Nicotiana benthamiana, recombinant enzymes can be produced at quantities relevant to clinical use with desired kinetic properties. Next, the ability of the most promising plant-produced cocaine super hydrolase, pCocSH, to counter the lethal effects of cocaine overdose in vivo was tested. These studies revealed that this plant-produced enzyme can protect mice from an otherwise lethal dose of cocaine. Most excitingly, it was found that pCocSH can rescue mice from overdose when given immediately after the onset of cocaine-induced seizures. These studies provide in vitro and in vivo proof-of-principle for a promising plant-derived biologic to be used as a pharmacokinetic-based treatment for cocaine addiction-related diseases such as overdose.

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Agent

Created

Date Created
  • 2015

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Biological and immunological characterization of plant-produced HIV-1 Gag/dgp41 virus-like particles

Description

Anti-retroviral drugs and AIDS prevention programs have helped to decrease the rate of new HIV-1 infections in some communities, however, a prophylactic vaccine is still needed to control the epidemic

Anti-retroviral drugs and AIDS prevention programs have helped to decrease the rate of new HIV-1 infections in some communities, however, a prophylactic vaccine is still needed to control the epidemic world-wide. Despite over two decades of research, a vaccine against HIV-1 remains elusive, although recent clinical trials have shown promising results. Recent successes have focused on highly conserved, mucosally-targeted antigens within HIV-1 such as the membrane proximal external region (MPER) of the envelope protein, gp41. MPER has been shown to play critical roles in the viral mucosal transmission, though this peptide is not immunogenic on its own. Gag is a structural protein configuring the enveloped virus particles, and has been suggested to constitute a target of the cellular immunity potentially controlling the viral load. It was hypothesized that HIV-1 enveloped virus-like particles (VLPs) consisting of Gag and a deconstructed form of gp41 comprising the MPER, transmembrane, and cytoplasmic domains (dgp41) could be expressed in plants. Plant-optimized HIV-1 genes were constructed and expressed in Nicotiana benthamiana by stable transformation, or transiently using a tobacco mosaic virus-based expression system or a combination of both. Results of biophysical, biochemical and electron microscopy characterization demonstrated that plant cells could support not only the formation of HIV-1 Gag VLPs, but also the accumulation of VLPs that incorporated dgp41. These particles were purified and utilized in mice immunization experiments. Prime-boost strategies combining systemic and mucosal priming with systemic boosting using two different vaccine candidates (VLPs and CTB-MPR - a fusion of MPER and the B-subunit of cholera toxin) were administered to BALB/c mice. Serum antibody responses against both the Gag and gp41 antigens could be elicited in mice systemically primed with VLPs and these responses could be recalled following systemic boosting with VLPs. In addition, mucosal priming with VLPs allowed for a robust boosting response against Gag and gp41 when boosted with either candidate. Functional assays of these antibodies are in progress to test the antibodies' effectiveness in neutralizing and preventing mucosal transmission of HIV-1. This immunogenicity of plant-based Gag/dgp41 VLPs represents an important milestone on the road towards a broadly-efficacious and inexpensive subunit vaccine against HIV-1.

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Agent

Created

Date Created
  • 2011

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Molecular design and functional characterization portfolio of flavivirus therapeutics

Description

Flavivirus infections are emerging as significant threats to human health around the globe. Among them West Nile(WNV) and Dengue Virus (DV) are the most prevalent in causing human disease with

Flavivirus infections are emerging as significant threats to human health around the globe. Among them West Nile(WNV) and Dengue Virus (DV) are the most prevalent in causing human disease with WNV outbreaks occurring in all areas around the world and DV epidemics in more than 100 countries. WNV is a neurotropic virus capable of causing meningitis and encephalitis in humans. Currently, there are no therapeutic treatments or vaccines available. The expanding epidemic of WNV demands studies that develop efficacious therapeutics and vaccines and produce them rapidly and inexpensively. In response, our lab developed a plant-derived monoclonal antibody (mAb) (pHu-E16) against DIII (WNV antigen) that is able to neutralize and prevent mice from lethal infection. However, this drug has a short window of efficacy due to pHu-E16's inability to cross the Blood Brain Barrier (BBB) and enter the brain. Here, we constructed a bifunctional diabody, which couples the neutralizing activity of E16 and BBB penetrating activity of 8D3 mAb. We also produced a plant-derived E16 scFv-CH1-3 variant with equivalent specific binding as the full pHu-E16 mAb, but only requiring one gene construct for production. Furthermore, a WNV vaccine based on plant-derived DIII was developed showing proper folding and potentially protective immune response in mice. DV causes severe hemorrhaging diseases especially in people exposed to secondary DV infection from a heterotypic strain. It is hypothesized that sub-neutralizing cross-reactive antibodies from the first exposure aid the second infection in a process called antibody-dependent enhancement (ADE). ADE depends on the ability of mAb to bind Fc receptors (FcγRs), and has become a major roadblock for developing mAb-based therapeutics against DV. We aim to produce an anti-Dengue mAb (E60) in different glycoengineered plant lines that exhibit reduced/differential binding to FcγRs, therefore, reducing or eliminating ADE. We have successfully cloned the molecular constructs of E60, and expressed it in two plant lines with different glycosylation patterns. We demonstrated that both plant-derived E60 mAb glycoforms retained specific recognition and neutralization activity against DV. Overall, our study demonstrates great strives to develop efficacious therapeutics and potent vaccine candidates against Flaviviruses in plant expression systems.

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Agent

Created

Date Created
  • 2014

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Plant-produced Ebola immune complex as an Ebola vaccine candidate

Description

Ebola hemorrhagic fever (EHF) is a severe and often fatal disease in human and nonhuman primates, caused by the Ebola virus. Approximately 30 years after the first epidemic, there is

Ebola hemorrhagic fever (EHF) is a severe and often fatal disease in human and nonhuman primates, caused by the Ebola virus. Approximately 30 years after the first epidemic, there is no vaccine or therapeutic medication approved to counter the Ebola virus. In this dissertation, a geminiviral replicon system was used to produce Ebola immune complex (EIC) in plant leaves and tested it as an Ebola vaccine. The EIC was produced in Nicotiana benthamiana leaves by fusing Ebola virus glycoprotein (GP1) to the C-terminus of heavy chain of 6D8 monoclonal antibody (mAb), which is specific to the 6D8 epitope of GP1, and co-expressing the fusion with the light chain of 6D8 mAb. EIC was purified by ammonium sulfate precipitation and protein A or protein G affinity chromatography. EIC was shown to be immunogenic in mice, but the level of antibody against Ebola virus was not sufficient to protect the mice from lethal the Ebola challenge. Hence, different adjuvants were tested in order to improve the immunogenicity of the EIC. Among several adjuvants that we used, Poly(I:C), which is a synthetic analog of double-stranded ribonucleic acid that can interact with a Toll-like receptor 3, strongly increased the efficacy of our Ebola vaccine. The mice immunized with EIC co-administered with Poly(I:C) produced high levels of neutralizing anti-Ebola IgG, and 80% of the mice were protected from the lethal Ebola virus challenge. Moreover, the EIC induced a predominant T-helper type 1 (Th1) response, whereas Poly(I:C) co-delivered with the EIC stimulated a mixed Th1/Th2 response. This result suggests that the protection against lethal Ebola challenge requires both Th1 and Th2 responses. In conclusion, this study demonstrated that the plant-produced EIC co-delivered with Poly(I:C) induced strong and protective immune responses to the Ebola virus in mice. These results support plant-produced EIC as a good vaccine candidate against the Ebola virus. It should be pursued further in primate studies, and eventually in clinical trials.

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Agent

Created

Date Created
  • 2010

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Molecular chaperones of the endoplasmic reticulum promote hepatitis C virus E2 protein production in plants

Description

Infections caused by the Hepatitis C Virus (HCV) are very common worldwide, affecting up to 3% of the population. Chronic infection of HCV may develop into liver cirrhosis and liver

Infections caused by the Hepatitis C Virus (HCV) are very common worldwide, affecting up to 3% of the population. Chronic infection of HCV may develop into liver cirrhosis and liver cancer which is among the top five of the most common cancers. Therefore, vaccines against HCV are under intense study in order to prevent HCV from harming people's health. The envelope protein 2 (E2) of HCV is thought to be a promising vaccine candidate because it can directly bind to a human cell receptor and plays a role in viral entry. However, the E2 protein production in cells is inefficient due to its complicated matured structure. Folding of E2 in the endoplasmic reticulum (ER) is often error-prone, resulting in production of aggregates and misfolded proteins. These incorrect forms of E2 are not functional because they are not able to bind to human cells and stimulate antibody response to inhibit this binding. This study is aimed to overcome the difficulties of HCV E2 production in plant system. Protein folding in the ER requires great assistance from molecular chaperones. Thus, in this study, two molecular chaperones in the ER, calreticulin and calnexin, were transiently overexpressed in plant leaves in order to facilitate E2 folding and production. Both of them showed benefits in increasing the yield of E2 and improving the quality of E2. In addition, poorly folded E2 accumulated in the ER may cause stress in the ER and trigger transcriptional activation of ER molecular chaperones. Therefore, a transcription factor involved in this pathway, named bZIP60, was also overexpressed in plant leaves, aiming at up-regulating a major family of molecular chaperones called BiP to assist protein folding. However, our results showed that BiP mRNA levels were not up-regulated by bZIP60, but they increased in response to E2 expression. The Western blot analysis also showed that overexpression of bZIP60 had a small effect on promoting E2 folding. Overall, this study suggested that increasing the level of specific ER molecular chaperones was an effective way to promote HCV E2 protein production and maturation.

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Agent

Created

Date Created
  • 2011