A THAI start-up has made progress in creating a coronavirus vaccine from leaves of a plant and this has been successfully tested on mice and monkeys, Khaosod newspaper reported this morning (August 30, 2020).
Prof. Teerawat Hemajuda, director of Emerging Infectious Disease Health Science Centre at Faculty of Medicine of Chulalongkorn University, said Baiya Phyto Farm Comany, a Thai start-up, is very hopeful that this vaccine could be used to prevent Covid-19 infection in humans.
Lab tests show that the plant vaccine builds up immunity in monkeys both spurring the production of antibodies against the virus and simulating the cellular system..
Researchers who set up this start-up inserted the genetic code to multiply the virus protein into the leaves and within one week they built the required protein with the structure and sequence of the protein not distorted when compared with other methods of creating vaccines.
“The plant vaccine was tested on mice and finally on monkeys, with two injections three weeks apart. Each monkey is safe, has no side effects. Blood test results of the monkeys showed normal liver enzymes as well as normal red and white blood cells, ” He said
The monkey had very high levels of neutralizing antibodies which can inhibit the virus. Tests were done by the ELISA surrogate isotype independent virus neutralizing and based on assay for true virus inhibition in cells.
IFN gamma formation values that emerged through peptide stimulation of monkey cells indicate T-cell activation while they remained safe with no adverse effects.
The highlight is that production of vaccine from this plant leaf is not a complicated process even in terms of millions of doses with it being possible to upgrade the laboratory to an industrial level immediately to produce pure protein to inject people.
If an existing factory, such as Siam Bioscience of Mahidol University, is used testing on humans could start in three months. If a new factory is to be built it would take nine months but capacity could be expanded to tens of millions doses within a short time.
Top: Thai researchers working on the plant-based Covid-19 vaccine. Photo: Khaosod