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.
Liz Duncan, Royal Society (Mar 2018), £14,602
Alex O'Neill & Ryan Seipke, BBSRC (Feb 2018), £45,489
Jim Deuchars, Royal Society (Feb 2018), £16,300
Lisa Collins, BBSRC (Feb 2018), £49,950
Alison Baker, BBSRC (Feb 2018), £30,000
Nikita Gamper, BBSRC (Feb 2018), £30,000
Lars Jeuken, BBSRC (Feb 2018), £30,000
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Jessica Kwok and Ronaldo Ichiyama, International Spinal Research Trust (Feb 2018), £94,450
Alex O'Neill, Oxford Drug Design (Jan 2018), £86,098
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Graham Askew, Simon Walker, BBSRC (Jan 2018), £699,781
Jennifer Tomlinson, Royal Society (Jan 2018), £512,801
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Jennifer Tomlinson, Royal Society-Research Fellows Enhancement Award (Dec 2017), £94,681
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Carrie Ferguson, Bryan Taylor, Harry Rossiter, The Physiological Society (Dec 2017), £7,392
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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
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Helen Miller, DSM Nutritional Products AG (Sep 2017), £69,988
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Ralf Richter, David Brockwell, Eric Hewitt, Jessica Kwok, Emanuele Paci and MAPS/FMH, BBSRC (Jun 2017), £600,000
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Stefan Kepinski, Yoselin Benitez-Alfonso, Tom Bennett, Michelle Peckham, BBSRC (Jun 2017), £331,000
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
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