Contributions of the international plant science community to the fight against human infectious diseases – part 1: epidemic and pandemic diseases

Maria Lobato Gómez, Xin Huang, Derry Alvarez, Wenshu He, Can Baysal, Changfu Zhu, Victoria Armario-Najera, Amaya Blanco Perera, Pedro Cerda Bennasser, Andera Saba-Mayoral, Guillermo Sobrino-Mengual, Ashwin Vargheese, Rita Abranches, Isabel Alexandra Abreu, Shanmugaraj Balamurugan, Ralph Bock, Johannes F. Buyel, Nicolau B. da Cunha, Henry Daniell, Roland FallerAndré Folgado, Iyappan Gowtham, Suvi T. Häkkinen, Shashi Kumar, Sathish Kumar Ramalingam, Cristiano Lacorte, George P. Lomonossoff, Ines M. Luís, Julian K.C. Ma, Karen A. McDonald, Andre Murad, Somen Nandi, Barry O’Keef, Kirsi Marja Oksman-Caldentey, Subramanian Parthiban, Mathew J. Paul, Daniel Ponndorf, Elibio Rech, Julio C.M. Rodrigues, Stephanie Ruf, Stefan Schillberg, Jennifer Schwestka, Priya S. Shah, Rahul Singh, Eva Stoger, Richard M. Twyman, Inchakalody P. Varghese, Giovanni R. Vianna, Gina Webster, Ruud H.P. Wilbers, Teresa Capell (Corresponding Author), Paul Christou (Corresponding Author)

Research output: Contribution to journalReview Articlepeer-review

37 Citations (Scopus)


Infectious diseases, also known as transmissible or communicable diseases, are caused by pathogens or parasites that spread in communities by direct contact with infected individuals or contaminated materials, through droplets and aerosols, or via vectors such as insects. Such diseases cause ~17% of all human deaths and their management and control places an immense burden on healthcare systems worldwide. Traditional approaches for the prevention and control of infectious diseases include vaccination programmes, hygiene measures and drugs that suppress the pathogen, treat the disease symptoms or attenuate aggressive reactions of the host immune system. The provision of vaccines and biologic drugs such as antibodies is hampered by the high cost and limited scalability of traditional manufacturing platforms based on microbial and animal cells, particularly in developing countries where infectious diseases are prevalent and poorly controlled. Molecular farming, which uses plants for protein expression, is a promising strategy to address the drawbacks of current manufacturing platforms. In this review article, we consider the potential of molecular farming to address healthcare demands for the most prevalent and important epidemic and pandemic diseases, focussing on recent outbreaks of high-mortality coronavirus infections and diseases that disproportionately affect the developing world.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1901-1920
Number of pages20
JournalPlant Biotechnology Journal
Issue number10
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2021
MoE publication typeA2 Review article in a scientific journal


  • COVID-19
  • Molecular farming
  • plant-made pharmaceuticals
  • SARS-CoV-2
  • Humans
  • Communicable Diseases/epidemiology
  • Pandemics/prevention & control


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