Medicago: production of influenza virus-like particles in plants

23-10-2007 | |
Medicago: production of influenza virus-like particles in plants

Medicago Inc. announces a breakthrough by using its proprietary expression system to produce a vaccine candidate for H5N1 avian influenza in highly immunogenic particles called Virus-Like Particles (VLPs).

According to the company, VLPs have significant advantages over conventional vaccines as they are known to enhance immunity and therefore increase protection against diseases.
These particles are similar to the virus from which they were derived from; however they lack viral nucleic acid, which results in the best compromise between safety (not infectious) and efficacy (highly immunogenic).
Medical potential
“Our transient expression system which produces recombinant vaccine antigens in the cells of non-transgenic plants has demonstrated its efficiency and medical potential by successfully producing the H5N1 Avian Influenza vaccine candidate in VLPs,” said Dr Louis Vezina, chief scientific officer of Medicago.
Advantage over traditional egg-based and cell culture technologies
“VLPs offer a promising avenue for the development of effective vaccines for diseases such as the constantly evolving H5N1 Avian Influenza. Our unique ability to rapidly deliver vaccines that can protect against the multiple variations of viruses will, in our opinion, give our technology a critical advantage over traditional egg-based and cell culture technologies. Using our proprietary plant-based technology, we believe we now have the ability to deliver a VLP vaccine for testing a month after the identification and reception of genetic sequences from the pandemic strain,” said Andy Sheldon, president and chief executive officer of Medicago.
Medicago has initiated preclinical studies with its proprietary VLP against H5N1 Avian Influenza virus and is now accumulating data. It is expected results from this first study will be published in the coming weeks.
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Medicago Inc.