Biotech Updates

GM Rice Accumulating Therapeutic Protein for Rheumatoid Arthritis

June 27, 2008

Various attempts have been conducted to express therapeutic proteins in transgenic crops, especially in the endosperm of GM rice. Scientists have developed transgenic rice varieties accumulating high levels of soybean glycinin and human active cytokine. Recently, a group of researchers from Nagoya University in Japan has successfully produced rice plants expressing type II collagen tolerogenic (producing immunological tolerance) peptide.

 Type II collagen is a major protein found in joint cartilage, where it acts somewhat like a glue to hold the cartilage and plays a critical role in smooth joint movements. Clinical studies have shown that administering type II collagen to patients with severe rheumatoid arthritis resulted to decrease swelling of joints.

The scientists inserted a gene construct producing glutelin fusion protein with tandem four repeats of the type II collagen peptide (CII250–270). The recombinant peptide could effectively be produced and accumulated (1µg per seed) as a glutelin-fusion protein in the rice seeds, which might be useful as pharmaceutical materials and functional food for prevention and therapy for rheumatoid arthritis.

 The article published by the journal Transgenic Research is available at