Crop Biotech Update

Functional Human Growth Factors Produced from an Insect-Baculovirus System

June 11, 2014

Growth factors (GFs) are naturally signalling proteins that bind to specific receptors on the cell surface. Progress has been made in identifying these GFs and understanding their pathways. The wider clinical and commercial application of these factors now relies on their scalable cost-efficient production as bioactive molecules. 

The ability of the insect larvae Trichoplusia ni as living bioreactors, in combination with the baculovirus vector expression system, in producing three fully functional human GFs was evaluated. The three human growth factors to be produced were: the human epidermal growth factor (huEGF), the human fibroblast growth factor 2 (huFGF2) and the human keratinocyte growth factor 1 (huKGF1).The expression levels of the three growth factors obtained per gram of insect biomass were of 9.1 mg huEGF, 2.6 mg huFGF2 and 3 mg huKGF1, respectively.  

Different modifications of the insect-baculovirus system were also used in attempts to optimize production of the growth factors. The insect-derived recombinant GFs were then characterized in terms of biological activity.

This discovery opens the possibility of a cost-efficient and scalable production of these highly valuable molecules in a system that favors its wide use in therapeutic or cosmetic applications.

To read more on this study, feel free to visit: http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0168165614002764.