Oral Delivery of Protein Drugs Bioencapsulated in Plant Cells
Plants cells are now approved by the FDA for cost-effective production of protein drugs (PDs) in large-scale current Good Manufacturing Practice (cGMP) hydroponic growth facilities. In lyophilized plant cells, PDs are stable at ambient temperature for several years, maintaining their folding and efficacy. Upon oral delivery, PDs bioencapsulated in plant cells are protected in the stomach from acids and enzymes but are subsequently released into the gut lumen by microbes that digest the plant cell wall. The large mucosal area of the human intestine offers an ideal system for oral drug delivery. When tags (receptor-binding proteins or cell-penetrating peptides) are fused to PDs, they efficiently cross the intestinal epithelium and are delivered to the circulatory or immune system. Unique tags to deliver PDs to human immune or nonimmune cells have been developed recently. After crossing the epithelium, ubiquitous proteases cleave off tags at engineered sites. PDs are also delivered to the brain or retina by crossing the blood–brain or retinal barriers. This review highlights recent advances in PD delivery to treat Alzheimer's disease, diabetes, hypertension, Gaucher's or ocular diseases, as well as the development of affordable drugs by eliminating prohibitively expensive purification, cold chain and sterile delivery.