Clinical trial of plant-based anthrax vaccine completed

The Delaware-based iBio recently conducted clinical trials on its plant-based vaccines, including an anthrax vaccine, for the U.S. Department of Defense.

The company is currently in talks with pharmaceutical companies that want to use the plant process in the production of their drugs, according to

“I think the appealing part of this is that it’s better technology," Robert Erwin of iBio said, according to "It works faster. It works less expensively and it’s extremely flexible."

The process uses leafy plants to grow pharmaceutical grade virus proteins, instead of eggs. First, the target protein on the microbe is identified and cloned into a plant viral gene expression vector and the vector is put into a solution. The plants are then placed into the solution upside down.

“We are using the machinery of the entire plant," Vidadi Yusibov, a molecular biologist, said, reports. "The living plant."

A process called vacuum filtration is then used to establish the vector in the plant. Air is first removed from the plant leaves and then the vacuum is released.

“The plants try to get the air back, but they are submerged in the vector solution," Yusibov said, reports. "They are completely under the solution."

The leaves have no choice but to absorb the virus-laced liquid. The virus then begins to replicate itself and the drug protein. After seven to 10 days, the plants are harvested and smashed into a pulp, at which point the drug can be extracted.

Tobacco plants that have not been genetically modified are used to create the vaccines. Tobacco plants were chosen because they will support the vector and take in liquid readily.

Organizations in this story

U.S. Department of Defense 2 N Rotary Rd Arlington, VA 22202

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