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Plant-based Expression of Biopharmaceuticals


  1. Jörg Knäblein

Published Online: 15 SEP 2006

DOI: 10.1002/3527600906.mcb.200400120

Reviews in Cell Biology and Molecular Medicine

Reviews in Cell Biology and Molecular Medicine

How to Cite

Knäblein, J. 2006. Plant-based Expression of Biopharmaceuticals. Reviews in Cell Biology and Molecular Medicine. .

Author Information

  1. Schering AG, Berlin, Germany

Publication History

  1. Published Online: 15 SEP 2006


Biopharmaceuticals are currently the mainstay products of the biotechnology market and represent the fastest growing and, in many ways, the most exciting sector within the pharmaceutical industry. The term “biopharmaceutical” was originated in the 1980s, when a general consensus evolved that it represented a class of therapeutics produced by means of modern biotechnologies. Already a quarter of a century ago, “humulin” (recombinant human insulin, produced in E. coli and developed by Genentech in collaboration with Eli Lilly) was approved and received marketing authorization in the United States of America in 1982. Since then the market for biopharmaceuticals has been steadily growing and currently nearly 150 biopharmaceuticals have gained approval for general human use (EU and USA). Over this period it became obvious that production capacities for biopharmaceuticals with “conventional” bioreactors would be a bottleneck and that worldwide fermentation capacities are limited. One exciting solution to these “capacity crunches” is the use of transgenic plants to produce biopharmaceuticals. This article describes different plant expression systems, their advantages and limitations, and concludes by considering some of the innovations and trends likely to influence the future of plant-based biopharmaceuticals.


  • GMP;
  • Transgenic;
  • Plant-based Expression;
  • Glycosylation;
  • Bioreactor