RUSH: Jim in San Antonio, Texas, great to have you, sir. You’re next on the EIB Network. Hello.
CALLER: Rush, can you hear me?
RUSH: Yeah. Barely.
CALLER: Okay. What I was gonna say was about the tobacco plant and how they get the cure, for lack of a better term, for the Ebola. It’s not a simple process because it doesn’t really come naturally from the tobacco plant. The tobacco plant is merely a vehicle for making these antibodies that they make, and it’s a complex process. It takes months and that’s the problem. They’re having to scale it up, obviously. They only had what they had and they used it all, so —
RUSH: So how long is it gonna take?
CALLER: That’s a good question. I would estimate — and I’m not intimately familiar with the process. I know it in general, but I would say months. And it’s not a trivial cost, obviously, but that’s not the issue right now.
RUSH: No, I’m sure. So the substance is not naturally found in this special tobacco plant?
CALLER: No, you have to introduce the genes to make the antibody. There’s actually more than one antibody. It’s a mixture. You have to introduce it to a virus that’s been put into the tobacco plant, then the plants grow, then you harvest ’em, then you have to get it back out again, and that’s a multi-multi-step process to purify the material.
CALLER: And so that’s why it’s not instantly available.
RUSH: This leads me to another question. Okay, you’ve got some scientists and engineers, and they want to concoct a treatment for Ebola. What in the world steers them to a specific tobacco plant as holding the answer?
CALLER: Well, like I said, the tobacco plant is merely a vehicle for growing these antibodies.
RUSH: Okay, so you could use anything? You could use turnips?
CALLER: Well, sort of. Not exactly. That’s beyond the scope of this discussion. They do use plants when you want to grow these large molecules. Typical thing they use is what’s called CHO cells, what stands for Chinese hamster ovary cells. They also use yeast to grow these various things. And so you put in the genes you want, and that produces the compounds you want, in this case antibodies or in other cases proteins that aren’t antibodies. But this, you know, is a nontrivial thing to discuss in a minute or two.
RUSH: All right. We’re getting so technical, I can’t keep up. The bottom line is we just can’t produce this stuff fast?
CALLER: Not quick. There’s a Wikipedia thing, it’s called ZMAT, it gives you a pretty good overview.
RUSH: All right.
CALLER: For people that want to research it.
RUSH: All right. I appreciate that. Thanks very much. I’m sorry, I could not understand a word he was saying. It’s because of his phone connection. So you all might have heard more than I did. I was following on transcription. But what I basically picked up was that it takes a long, long time, the tobacco plant is just the vehicle for this thing. It’s not a mass produced process yet and takes awhile.