Pilot plant to make tobacco-based vaccine launched in Bangkok

BANGKOK (The Nation/ANN): Public Health Minister Anutin Charnvirakul on Friday (Aug 13) inspected a pilot production facility for a plant-based Covid-19 vaccine at Chulalongkorn University in Bangkok.

The plant-based vaccine project is a collaboration between Chulalongkorn University and Baiya Phytopharm Ltd. It uses a subunit protein extracted from tobacco leaves to mimic Covid-19 and trigger an immune response in recipients.

The project launched in February 2020 has since produced successful results in rats and monkeys.

“The Public Health Ministry and National Vaccine Institute have handed a budget of 160 million baht to Chula and Baiya to establish a pilot plant to produce plant-based vaccines and biologics by transforming the 11th floor of Chulaphat 14 building [at Chula] into a 1,200 square metre manufacturing facility,” said Anutin.

“The Food and Drug Administration also helped in improving the vaccine manufacturing process. We expect phase one of human trials to start next month on 100 volunteers.”

Anutin said that if the trial is successful, the plant could start manufacturing Covid-19 vaccine in the third quarter of 2022 at up to 5 million doses per month, or 60 million doses per year.

“The advantage of plant-based vaccine is that it can be modified and improved to tackle new variants of the virus,” he added.

“Currently we have researched up to 10 variants of Covid-19. In the future we could improve the formula in the same way as influenza vaccine, to protect against various strains with just one dose.” - The Nation/Asia News Network

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