Article

A plant-based system for rapid production of influenza vaccine antigens.

Fraunhofer USA Center for Molecular Biotechnology, Newark, DE 19711, USA.
Influenza and Other Respiratory Viruses (Impact Factor: 1.47). 10/2011; 6(3):204-10. DOI: 10.1111/j.1750-2659.2011.00295.x
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT Influenza virus is a globally important respiratory pathogen that causes a high degree of annual morbidity and mortality. Significant antigenic drift results in emergence of new, potentially pandemic, virus variants. The best prophylactic option for controlling emerging virus strains is to manufacture and administer pandemic vaccines in sufficient quantities and to do so in a timely manner without impacting the regular seasonal influenza vaccine capacity. Current, egg-based, influenza vaccine production is well established and provides an effective product, but has limited capacity and speed.
To satisfy the additional global demand for emerging influenza vaccines, high-performance cost-effective technologies need to be developed. Plants have a potential as an economic and efficient large-scale production platform for vaccine antigens.
In this study, a plant virus-based transient expression system was used to produce hemagglutinin (HA) proteins from the three vaccine strains used during the 2008-2009 influenza season, A/Brisbane/59/07 (H1N1), A/Brisbane/10/07 (H3N2), and B/Florida/4/06, as well as from the recently emerged novel H1N1 influenza A virus, A/California/04/09.
The recombinant plant-based HA proteins were engineered and produced in Nicotiana benthamiana plants within 2 months of obtaining the genetic sequences specific to each virus strain. These antigens expressed at the rate of 400-1300 mg/kg of fresh leaf tissue, with >70% solubility. Immunization of mice with these HA antigens induced serum anti-HA IgG and hemagglutination inhibition antibody responses at the levels considered protective against these virus infections.
These results demonstrate the feasibility of our transient plant expression system for the rapid production of influenza vaccine antigens.

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