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Biotechnological Production of Pharmaceuticals and Biopharmaceuticals in Plant Cell and Organ Cultures

[ Vol. 25 , Issue. 30 ]


Diego Hidalgo, Raul Sanchez, Liliana Lalaleo, Mercedes Bonfill, Purificacion Corchete and Javier Palazon*   Pages 3577 - 3596 ( 20 )


Background: Plant biofactories are biotechnological platforms based on plant cell and organ cultures used for the production of pharmaceuticals and biopharmaceuticals, although to date only a few of these systems have successfully been implemented at an industrial level. Metabolic engineering is possibly the most straightforward strategy to boost pharmaceutical production in plant biofactories, but social opposition to the use of GMOs means empirical approaches are still being used.

Plant secondary metabolism involves thousands of different enzymes, some of which catalyze specific reactions, giving one product from a particular substrate, whereas others can yield multiple products from the same substrate. This trait opens plant cell biofactories to new applications, in which the natural metabolic machinery of plants can be harnessed for the bioconversion of phytochemicals or even the production of new bioactive compounds. Synthetic biological pipelines involving the bioconversion of natural substrates into products with a high market value may be established by the heterologous expression of target metabolic genes in model plants.

Objective: To summarize the state of the art of plant biofactories and their applications for the pipeline production of cosme-, pharma- and biopharmaceuticals.

Results: In order to demonstrate the great potential of plant biofactories for multiple applications in the biotechnological production of pharmaceuticals and biopharmaceuticals, this review broadly covers the following: plant biofactories based on cell and hairy root cultures; secondary metabolite production; biotransformation reactions; metabolic engineering tools applied in plant biofactories; and biopharmaceutical production.


Plant biofactories, Pharmaceuticals, Biopharmaceuticals, Metabolic engineering, Hairy root, Plant cell cultures, Biotransformation.


Laboratori de Fisiologia Vegetal, Facultat de Farmacia, Universitat de Barcelona, Barcelona, Departament de Ciencies Experimentals i de la Salut, Universitat Pompeu Fabra, Barcelona, Faculty of Agricultural Sciences, Technical University of Ambato, Cevallos, Province of Tungurahua, Laboratori de Fisiologia Vegetal, Facultat de Farmacia, Universitat de Barcelona, Barcelona, Department of Plant Physiology, Campus Miguel de Unamuno, University of Salamanca, Salamanca, Laboratori de Fisiologia Vegetal, Facultat de Farmacia, Universitat de Barcelona, Barcelona

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