Tobacco, a highly efficient green bioreactor for production of therapeutic proteins

Biotechnol Adv. 2010 Mar-Apr;28(2):214-21. doi: 10.1016/j.biotechadv.2009.11.008. Epub 2009 Dec 2.


Molecular farming of pharmaceuticals in plants has the potential to provide almost unlimited amounts of recombinant proteins for use in disease diagnosis, prevention or treatment. Tobacco has been and will continue to be a major crop for molecular farming and offers several practical advantages over other crops. It produces significant leaf biomass, has high soluble protein content and is a non-food crop, minimizing the risk of food-chain contamination. This, combined with its flexibility and highly-efficient genetic transformation/regeneration, has made tobacco particularly well suited for plant-based production of biopharmaceutical products. The goal of this review is to provide an update on the use of tobacco for molecular farming of biopharmaceuticals as well the technologies developed to enhance protein production/purification/efficacy. We show that tobacco is a robust biological reactor with a multitude of applications and may hold the key to success in plant molecular farming.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Autoantigens / immunology
  • Bioreactors*
  • Drug and Narcotic Control
  • Immune Tolerance / immunology
  • Nicotiana / metabolism*
  • Recombinant Proteins / biosynthesis*
  • Recombinant Proteins / therapeutic use*


  • Autoantigens
  • Recombinant Proteins