New Zealand’s Crop and Food Research Institute has formed a joint venture with Singapore Polytechnic to use potatoes to produce high-value medical protein.
The proteins include one that helps the body repair itself after heart or circulatory system surgery or nervous diseases.
The researchers have synthesized a gene based on mammalian proteins and inserted it into the potatoes allowing the hormone to be produced on a large scale.
“We are using very complex proteins which could not function in such primitive systems as bacteria,” Crop and Food scientist Tony Conner, said.
“You probably need a plant or higher organism to make them. They could be synthesized artificially but at huge costs.”
It takes about seven potato plants to extract a gram of the protein that is worth more than NZ$1 million.