Innovation That Matters

The genetically modified tomato is easy to grow | Photo source Phil Robinson

Genetically engineered tomatoes grow medicine for Parkinson’s disease


The bio-based version of the L-DOPA medicine may cause fewer side effects

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Spotted: A team of researchers from the UK’s John Innes Centre for plant science, genetics and microbiology recently published its proof-of-concept study into growing the L-DOPA medicine in genetically modified tomatoes. The best-considered medicine currently available to treat Parkinson’s disease is synthetically produced L-DOPA, which is expensive and often brings with it significant side effects. The bio-produced version of the drug shows potential for reducing nausea and behavioural changes in patients, as well as being easier for the body to metabolise.

The result of several years of work, the genetically modified tomato is easy to grow, which combined with local manufacturing facilities, could help put the medicine into the hands of some of the world’s most underserved communities. Tomato plants are high-yield growers and easy to manipulate genetically, making them ideal for use as bio-factories.

Parkinson’s disease is growing in many countries, pointing to potential problems for healthcare systems overwhelmed by need. At a cost of approximately €1.6 per day, the L-DOPA that is commercially available from the major pharmaceutical companies is often too expensive for many patients.

Technological innovation is reshaping healthcare, with Springwise spotting advancements that include a prescription video game that treats ADHD in children and a medicine-dispensing micro-robot.

Written by: Keely Khoury

Explore more: Science Innovations | Health & Wellbeing Innovations



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