Prof Dave Rowlands, Emeritus Professor of Virology at the University of Leeds and Principal Investigator on this project, has led a team of scientists to produce a new polio vaccine with the help of plants.
The results of this research – conducted by a collaborative team from the University of Leeds, John Innes Centre, Oxford University, Diamond Light Source, the Henry Wellcome Building for Genomic Medicine and The National Institutefor Biological Standards and Control – was published in the journal Nature Communications, Plant-made Polio 3 stabilised VLPs — a candidate synthetic Polio vaccine.
The vaccine has been produced with a method using virus-like particles (VLPs) that have been grown in genetically modified plants. These VLPs mimic the polio pathogen and trick the immune system into protecting itself.
Genes carrying information to produce the VLPs are infiltrated into the plant tissues and the plant then reproduces the VLPs in large quantities. This means that the system of growing non-pathogenic virus mimics in plants can be scaled up.
The method uses the same technology that helped design a new synthetic vaccine to combat foot and mouth disease.
It is hoped that the vaccine will help globally eliminate the disease which has been present since prehistory; its effects having been depicted in Egyptian paintings thought to be from between 1403-1365 BC.
The vaccine has proved to be a success in animal tests, during which the viral particle vaccine tricked the immune system into defending against polio. There is hope that the vaccine will produce the same effects in humans, without the risks current “live” vaccines have.
Prof Rowlands said, “Small scale laboratory tests demonstrated that the ground-breaking synthetic vaccine provided animals with immunity from the disease similar to the existing widely used vaccine. Although this is still early results, it does provide evidence that this can be taken to the next stage with input of pharmaceutical industry collaborators.
“The results of our research pave the way towards production of a novel synthetic vaccine to help bring about the global elimination of poliomyelitis. Such a vaccine would be quicker, easier and safer to produce, without the inherent danger of accidental release of virus associated with the production of current vaccines.”
The research has been funded by the World Health Organisation and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.
Graham Askew, Simon Walker, BBSRC (Jan 2018), £699,781
Jennifer Tomlinson, Royal Society (Jan 2018), £512,801
Michelle Peckham, Neil Ransom, MRC (Nov 2017), £495,159
Dave Lewis, British Council India (Nov 2017), £22,540
Elton Zeqiraj, Royal Society (Nov 2017), £15,000
Hannah Dugdale, Royal Society (Nov 2017), £15,000
Shaunna Burke, Cancer Research UK Innovation Grant (Nov 2017), £20,000
Alex O'Neill and colleagues in Chemistry, BBSRC (Nov 2017), £431,865
Jessica Kwok, Wings for Life (Nov 2017), £87,365
Tom Bennett, BBSRC (Oct 2017), £523,679
Neil Ranson, Darren Tomlinson, BBSRC (Oct 2017), £494,318
Nikita Gamper, BBSRC (Oct 2017), £490,426
Amanda Bretman and colleagues from UEA, NERC (Oct 2017), £430,886
Juan Fontana, Rosetrees Trust consumables grant (Oct 2017), £22,500
Helen Miller, DSM Nutritional Products AG (Sep 2017), £69,988
Neil Ranson, Juan Fontana, Mark Harris, Michelle Peckham, Ralf Richter, Peter Stockley, Patricija Van Oosten-Hawle and colleagues in Engineering, FMH and MAPS, Wellcome Trust Equipment Call (Sep 2017), £418,000
Jamie Johnston, Physiological Society (Sep 2017), £10,000
Frank Sobott, Adrian Goldman, Mark Harris, Andrew Macdonald, Stephen Muench, Sheena Radford and colleagues in FMH and MAPS, Wellcome Trust Equipment Call (Aug 2017), £415,000
Ralf Richter, David Brockwell, Eric Hewitt, Jessica Kwok, Emanuele Paci and MAPS/FMH, BBSRC (Jun 2017), £600,000
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Roman Tuma, Lars Jeuken, Paul Millner, Sheena Radford, Peter Stockley and MAPS/FMH, BBSRC (Jun 2017), £222,000
Vas Ponnambalam, Darren Tomlinson, Stephen Wheatcroft, BHF (May 2017), £107,878
Graham Askew in collaboration with Bangor University, BBSRC (Mar 2017), £477,383
Stephen Muench, BBSRC (Mar 2017), £132,945
Nic Stonehouse, MRC (Mar 2017), £906,341
Bill Kunin, Steve Sait, BBSRC (Mar 2017), £602,831
Adrian Goldman, EU (Mar 2017), £546,576
Sheena Radford, Wellcome Trust (Mar 2017), £1,836,482
Beatrice Filippi, Royal Society (Mar 2017), £15,000
Jamie Johnston, Royal Society (Mar 2017), £15,000
Tom Bennett, Royal Society (Mar 2017), £15,000
Ryan Seipke, BBSRC (Feb 2017), £52,116
Mary O'Connell, BBSRC (Feb 2017), £46,986
Hannah Dugdale, NERC (Feb 2017), £504,138
Anastasia Zhuravleva, EPSRC (Jan 2017), £100,792
Richard Bayliss, Cancer Research UK (Jan 2017), £1,600,000
John Barr, EU (Jan 2017), £339,000
Mark Harris, Royal Society (Jan 2017), £250,000
Alison Dunn, NERC (Jan 2017), £105,000
Alex Breeze, Pancreatic Cancer Research Fund (Jan 2017), £180,000
Alison Dunn, NERC (Dec 2016), £18,000
Lisa Collins, BBSRC (Dec 2016), £1,681,835
Brendan Davies, Leverhulme Trust (Dec 2016), £247,555
Alan Benson, Mark Drinkhill, Ed White, British Heart Foundaion (Dec 2016), £217,223
Adrian Goldman, Royal Society (Dec 2016), £82,999
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Katie Field, Rank Prize Funds (Nov 2016), £20,000