Henry Daniell, PhD, College of Medicine at the University of Central Florida (UCF) in Orlando has received a two-year, $200,000 Special Project Award from Bayer Healthcare to further his research on novel hemophilia therapies. He was one of five recipients worldwide.
Daniell heads a laboratory at UCF that specializes in gene expression studies in different cellular components of microorganisms and higher plants. Areas of interest include vaccines, pharmaceutical and antimicrobial proteins, and herbicide, insect and disease resistance. Daniell has developed transgenic plants for producing and delivering oral vaccines and immune-tolerant therapies. He has used similar techniques to create potential vaccines against malaria and cholera, and has genetically engineered insulin into plants to help prevent diabetes.
Using genetically modified plants, Daniell and his team hope to develop therapeutic factor proteins that decrease unwanted treatment reactions such as anaphylaxis, a life-threatening allergic reaction, or an inhibitor response by the immune system. The technique involves encapsulating a “tolerance-inducing protein” within plant cell walls so that when it is ingested it safely travels through the stomach before being released into the small intestines. In previous tests, factor IX-bioencapsulated plant cells were successfully delivered to the gut of mice with hemophilia B. Daniell reported that the therapy prevented anaphylactic shock and adverse immune reactions.
“It’s quite an honor to be ranked first in a global competition,” said Daniell. “This grant will certainly help us to move this research forward and potentially save thousands of lives.”
The Bayer Hemophilia Awards Program supports basic and clinical research and education in hemophilia. Through grants provided to early career researchers, fellows in training and other hemophilia care professionals, the program seeks to support the next generation of care and treatment options for people with hemophilia worldwide. Since its founding in 2002, the Bayer funded program has awarded 175 grants, totaling more than $20 million, to researchers, clinicians and caregivers from 28 countries.
Source: UCF news release dated July 12, 2010