Drug makers’ use of tobacco plants as a fast and cheap way to produce novel biotechnology treatments is gaining global attention because of its role in an experimental Ebola therapy, according to a story by Sharon Begley for Reuters.
The treatment, which had been tested only in laboratory animals before being given to two US medical workers in Liberia, apparently comprises proteins called monoclonal antibodies that bind to and inactivate the Ebola virus.
For decades biotech companies have produced such antibodies by growing genetically engineered mouse cells in enormous metal bioreactors. But in the case of the new Ebola treatment ZMapp, developed by Mapp Pharmaceuticals, the antibodies were produced in tobacco plants at Kentucky Bioprocessing, a unit of Reynolds American.
The tobacco-plant-produced monoclonals have been dubbed ‘plantibodies’.
“Tobacco makes for a good vehicle to express the antibodies because it is inexpensive and it can produce a lot,” said Erica Ollmann Saphire, a professor at The Scripps Research Institute and a prominent researcher in viral hemorrhagic fever diseases such as Ebola. “It is grown in a greenhouse and you can manufacture kilograms of the materials. It is much less expensive than cell culture.”
The full story is at: http://www.reuters.com/article/2014/08/06/health-ebola-tobacco-idUSL2N0QC03R20140806.
Boeing and the state-owned South African Airways have agreed to co-operate in producing jet fuel from a new type of tobacco plant, with the aim of reducing environmental pollution, according to a story by Eduard Gismatullin for Bloomberg News.
The partners will use SkyNRG’s hybrid plant Solaris, which can be grown as an energy crop, the companies were quoted as saying.
Initially, the oil from the plant’s seeds will be refined into the fuel, though it is expected that as extraction technology improves the rest of the plant will be used also.
The full story is at: http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2014-08-06/boeing-and-south-african-airways-to-fly-planes-on-tobacco-fuel.html.
A US politician has introduced legislation to prohibit children from working on tobacco farms, according to a story by Cristina Marcos for The Hill.
David Cicilline, a Democrat of Rhode Island, said he had been inspired to address the issue after a Human Rights Watch report earlier this year documented how children working in tobacco fields were exposed to health risks, including tobacco poisoning.
The report found that the children often work long hours in tobacco fields without appropriate protective gear. Consequently, many of the children exhibited symptoms of nicotine poisoning, including nausea, vomiting, dizziness and headaches.
“It seems to me that exposing young people to those kinds of dangers is something we should prevent,” Cicilline said in an interview.
The full story is at: http://thehill.com/blogs/floor-action/house/214491-bill-would-prevent-children-from-working-on-tobacco-farms
Three EU countries have lodged objections to Ireland’s standardized tobacco packaging proposals put forward by Dr. James Reilly when he was Minister for Health, according to a story in The Irish Times.
Portugal, Bulgaria and Slovakia are said to have objected in recent weeks on the basis that the proposals are incompatible with EU rules on the free movement of goods and services, among other issues.
Reilly’s plans were received by the European Commission on June 17, a week after he received approval from Cabinet.
While he was moved out of the health department in a cabinet reshuffle last month, Reilly will be taking some aspects of tobacco control policy with him to the Department of Children, though the exact details have yet to be finalised.
The Times report said that other member states and the Commission might issue reactions to the draft plans, though such action was rare.
‘The commission is unlikely to oppose Dr Reilly’s Bill outright, but Ireland may have to take comments from it and other member states into account, which could lead to delays in its introduction,’ the report said.
The full story is at: https://www.irishtimes.com/news/politics/eu-states-concerns-could-delay-plain-packaging-for-tobacco-1.1888490.
Testing in Japan of this year’s domestic crop of flue-cured Virginia tobacco has been completed, and none of the leaf tested exceeded the Japan Tobacco Inc. standard value of radioactive cesium: 100Bq/kg.
JT has been conducting a number of tests at each stage of its production process for radioactive materials in Japanese domestic tobacco in order to allay consumer concern following the accident at the TEPCO Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant in March 2011.
The company today announced the results of pre-purchase testing of this year’s flue-cured crop, which can be viewed at: http://www.jt.com/media/announcements/2014/pdf/20140807_2.pdf.
In a note posted on its website, JT said it would continue with its scheme of testing domestic leaf tobacco after purchase, and testing and monitoring a number of times at each stage of its production process.
Testing of the remaining native tobacco and Burley tobacco is scheduled to be initiated from September.
Hail & Cotton International Group (HCIG) has hired Michael de la Fargue as president and CEO. De la Fargue brings more than 20 years of relevant tobacco leaf experience, having most recently served as vice president of leaf services in Africa for JTI. He replaces Warren L. Corbin who served as HCIG’s president/CEO for the past eight years and will continue as a member of the board of directors.
“I am very excited to be joining the HCIG team,” days De la Fargue. “Having had several business dealings with HCIG in previous years, I have always held the company in high regard. I look forward to establishing a strong working relationship with our customers, grower base and suppliers. Together with my colleagues, I will continue to provide our customers with the highest possible quality and service, build on the platform Warren has established, retain and enhance the company’s reputation and values, and grow shareholder value.”
“Our diligent search to find the right person has paid off with Mike joining our group,” says Corbin. “He brings to HCIG a tremendous knowledge of the global leaf industry and a strong background of helping customers fulfill their needs. I am pleased to have Mike in the position of leading HCIG in the coming years. ”
Prior to joining JTI, De la Fargue served as group director and shareholder for Tribac Leaf. Before joining Tribac, he held several leadership positions with Universal Leaf Tobacco working in Europe, Canada and the U.S. De la Fargue intends to relocate to HCIG’s headquarters in Springfield, Tennessee, USA, by the end of the year.