PA Senators Visit Dental’s High-Tech Greenhouse

September 11, 2018

Dr. Henry Daniell explains his plant-based system for producing and delivering drugs to PA Senators touring his research greenhouse, which is part of Pennovation Works.

Philadelphia – Penn Dental Medicine welcomed Pennsylvania State Senators to its high-tech research greenhouse as part of a recent visit by the PA Senate Appropriations Committee members to Pennovation Works, Penn’s hub for innovation, designed to bridge the intellectual and entrepreneurial initiatives for advancing knowledge and generating economic development. The research greenhouse of Dr. Henry Daniell, Professor and Interim Chair of Biochemistry at Penn Dental Medicine, has been part of 23-acre campus of Pennovation Works since 2013.

The visit, hosted by Penn’s Office of Government & Community Affairs, was organized to share with the Senators the variety of research being conducted within Pennovation Works and to acknowledge the work of Sen. Stewart Greenleaf, C’61, a Penn alumnus and Chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee, who is retiring from the Senate. Both Dr. Daniell and Dr. Mark Wolff, Morton Amsterdam Dean of Penn Dental Medicine, welcomed Sen. Greenleaf and his fellow senators to the greenhouse.

Dr. Daniell shared his research with the Senate visitors while giving a tour of the greenhouse facility where plants harboring drug proteins and vaccines are grown. Dr. Daniell has dedicated his career to tackling the oppressively high cost of drugs that prevents billions of people worldwide from managing what should be non-threatening conditions. To that end, he developed a platform for producing and delivering drugs in which therapeutic proteins are introduced into plant cells and the specially engineered plants are grown, harvested, and encapsulated. This plant-based system has been shown to be effective in producing and delivering vaccines, insulin, and in the treatment of autoimmune disorders.

“It is unacceptable that a medication like insulin is unobtainable for 90 percent of the world’s diabetics,” says Dr. Daniell. “Essential treatments are currently out of reach for so many people, but this capsule delivery method has the potential to change all of that by breaking down the staggering cost barriers.”

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