Is Big Tobacco big enough to beat COVID-19?

The properties of the tobacco plant have been well known among researchers for decades, earning it the nickname “the lab mouse of the plant world.” Plant-based vaccines can copy viruses, allowing the body’s immune system to recognize them and create an immune response.

Kentucky BioProcessing (KBP), a subsidiary of British American Tobacco, might seem a surprising contender for a COVID-19 vaccine, but it’s working on one using tobacco plants. And it’s not the first time. They played a key role in developing one of the most successful antidotes to the Ebola virus in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

“The technologies and processes that KBP develops make it possible to harness the biochemical processes of tobacco plants to produce specific complex proteins more efficiently and effectively than they can be produced using more traditional methods, ” said KBP representative Kaelan Hollon. “The tobacco production system offers a much faster and less expensive way to move from product concept to actually having material in hand.”

According to British American Tobacco,  this method can reduce the time required to reproduce vaccines from several months to about six weeks.

Recent news releases from KBP and BAT indicate that the companies are preparing for phase one clinical trials in humans. British American Tobacco released the news May 15.

Read full article here.

Michael McGrady – Sun Journal – July 6, 2020.

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