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Tobacco Plant to the Rescue

How does the tobacco plant go from villain hero? After all tobacco has been shown to be the leading cause of lung cancer, and its use increases the chances of many other cancers. Dr. Biology catches up with Charlie Arntzen, a biologist and pharmer (no that is not a misspelling), who has been using the tobacco plant as tool to develop drug treatments.

Content Info | Transcript


MP3 download | 15MB

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Topic Time
Introduction. 00:00
What is pharming? 01:22
How do you get plants to make medicine? 01:53
Monoclonal antibodies. 02:55
Using mice genes to make Ebola monoclonal antibodies. 03:38
Review the immune system in Viral Attack comic at AAB. 04:20
Why use tobacco plants? 04:55
Making a plant virus. 06:15
Was the ZMapp drug quick or easy to make? 06:40
Did you expect ZMapp to be in use already? 08:29
How long does it take to get a drug approved? 09:16
The details of Ebola. 09:52
Can you use tobacco for good things other than medicine? 10:39
Fast-growing tobacco. 11:54
Are there other plants that are good for pharming? 12:24
Carrots, tobacco... any other plants? 13:16
What else can we use plants for? 14:38
Is there an advantage to growing the plant locally? 16:15
The history of plants in medicine. 17:27
Basic research vs. applied. 18:30
How do you move a project from basic research to applied research? 19:03
Applied research depends on basic research. 20:25
Do you think biology is more collaborative now than it used to be? 20:50
Collaborators involved in this project. 21:23
Plants and personalized medicine. 22:50
Three questions. 25:12
When did you first know you wanted to be a biologist? 25:19
If you couldn't be a biologist, what would you be? 26:45
What advice would you have for a students looking to get into biology? 27:25
Sign-off. [Tobacco's Wild Ride] 28:26

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Tobacco Plant to the Rescue

Audio editor: CJ Kazilek

Tobacco leaf infected with a virus

To learn more about Charlie Arntzen and the tobacco plant story read - Tobacco's Wild Ride.

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Be part of Ask A Biologist

by volunteering, or simply sending us feedback on the site. Scientists, teachers, writers, illustrators, and translators are all important to the program. If you are interested in helping with the website we have a Volunteer page to get the process started.

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Tobacco leaf infected with a virus

To learn more about Charlie Arntzen and the tobacco plant story read - Tobacco's Wild Ride.

Share to Google Classroom

Be part of Ask A Biologist

by volunteering, or simply sending us feedback on the site. Scientists, teachers, writers, illustrators, and translators are all important to the program. If you are interested in helping with the website we have a Volunteer page to get the process started.