A representational image. Laboratory tests demonstrate that the polio virus mimics provided animals with immunity from the disease paving the way for human vaccines to be produced by plants on a major scale with the input of pharmaceutical industry collaborators. Photo: Bloomberg
A representational image. Laboratory tests demonstrate that the polio virus mimics provided animals with immunity from the disease paving the way for human vaccines to be produced by plants on a major scale with the input of pharmaceutical industry collaborators. Photo: Bloomberg

Plant based polio vaccine developed: scientists

Scientists have developed a new polio vaccine using plants, a breakthrough which can pave the way for global eradication of the age-old viral disease

London: Scientists have developed a new polio vaccine using plants, a breakthrough which can pave the way for global eradication of the age-old viral disease.

Researchers from John Innes Centre, Norwich in the UK produced the novel vaccine with a method that uses virus-like particles (VLPs) - non-pathogenic mimics of polio virus which are grown in plants.

Genes that carry information to produce VLPs are infiltrated into the plant tissues. The host plant then reproduces large quantities of them using its own protein expression mechanisms, researchers said.

“This is an incredible collaboration involving plant science, animal virology and structural biology. The question for us now is how to scale it up - we do not want to stop at a lab technique," said George Lomonossoff, professor at John Innes Centre, Norwich.

VLPs look like viruses but are non-infectious. They have been biologically engineered so they do not contain the nucleic acid that allows viruses to replicate, researchers said.

This means that they mimic the behaviour of the virus, stimulating the immune system to respond without causing an infection of poliomyelitis, they said.

Laboratory tests demonstrated that the polio virus mimics provided animals with immunity from the disease paving the way for human vaccines to be produced by plants on a major scale with the input of pharmaceutical industry collaborators.

“The beauty of this system of growing non-pathogenic virus mimics in plants, is that it boosts our ability to scale-up the production of vaccine candidates to combat emerging threats to human health," Lomonossoff said.

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