Israeli BioPharm Company Protalix Can Produce The ZMapp Ebola Drug

By By Times of Israel Staff September 12, 2014 Comments

This article was first published on The Times of Israel and was re-posted with permission.

Protalix, an Israeli biopharmaceutical company located outside of the northern city of Carmiel, said Saturday that it has the resources to produce the experimental Ebola vaccine, ZMapp, which has recently run out.

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In an interview with Channel 2, Protalix’s Dr. Yossi Shaaltiel, the executive vice president of research and development said: “Today our production capacity exceeds our needs, and we would certainly be happy to have the company producing the Ebola drug have us produce the drug for them. We would know how to do it effectively, in large quantities, and in a relatively short period of time.”

Cynthia GoldsmithThis colorized transmission electron micrograph (TEM) revealed some of the ultrastructural morphology displayed by an Ebola virus virion. See PHIL 1832 for a black and white version of this image.Where is Ebola virus found in nature?The exact origin, locations, and natural habitat (known as the "natural reservoir") of Ebola virus remain unknown. However, on the basis of available evidence and the nature of similar viruses, researchers believe that the virus is zoonotic (animal-borne) and is normally maintained in an animal host that is native to the African continent. A similar host is probably associated with Ebola-Reston which was isolated from infected cynomolgous monkeys that were imported to the United States and Italy from the Philippines. The virus is not known to be native to other continents, such as North America.

Shaaltiel said the company is more proficient in the genetic engineering of tobacco plants — from which the ZMapp medication is drawn — than any other plant. The TV report maintained that the facilities in northern Israel were more advanced, and better equipped than the greenhouses in the US where production of the ZMapp drug takes place.

When the company started out, Shaaltiel said, “We were considered crazy.”

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“Now we are proving that we are the only ones working with the [kind of] plants that [are developed into] pharmaceutical drugs which are approved,” he said.

To continue reading this article on the TOI site, click here.

Photo by NIAID

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