Potential CoronaVirus Vaccine Made Of Tobacco Leaves2 min read

On Wednesday, British American Tobacco announced that they are working on a potential coronavirus vaccine through their US biotech subsidiary.  Therefore, according to a report, the first batch should be ready by June 2020.

British American Tobacco stated Kentucky BioProcessing (KBP), a division of BAT’s Reynolds American Inc. According to Reuters, they ought to churn out between 1 to 3  million doses of the vaccine by that time. Proteins extracted from tobacco leaves are the main ingredient of the vaccine.

In these circumstances, KBP is going to develop the vaccine on a not-for-profit basis. However, support from government agencies and the proper manufacturers is also in their expectation.

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At present, The vaccine is undergoing pre-clinical testing. Furthermore, it uses a cloned part of the virus’s genetic sequence to make antigens. According to the news outlet, scientists are injecting tobacco plants in order to reproduce by the substances that show an immune response in the human body.

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The company stated, Once harvested, the antigens are extracted, purified and then inserted into the body to fight the virus.

several advantages over conventional vaccine production technology:
  • It is potentially safer given that tobacco plants can’t host pathogens that cause human disease.
  • It is faster because the elements of the vaccine accumulate in tobacco plants much more quickly – 6 weeks in tobacco plants versus several months using conventional methods.
  • The vaccine formulation KBP is developing remains stable at room temperature, unlike conventional vaccines which often require refrigeration.
  • It has the potential to deliver an effective immune response in a single dose.
British American Tobacco
Tobacco plants cultivation for vaccine development at KBP facilities

Their director of scientific research, David O’Reilly said that they made a significant break-through with their tobacco plant technology platform. He also added that the company is ready to work with governments and all stakeholders to help win the war against COVID-19.

According to British American Tobacco, they were working with the Food and Drug Administration and with British health authorities to launch the clinical studies as soon as possible.

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KBP also made headlines in 2014 when it developed a treatment for Ebola. They developed ZMapp alongside Mapp BioPharmaceuticals. The drug did not receive FDA approval yet.

Chinese researchers shared the virus’s genetic sequence with other scientists, giving them the much-needed headstart to look for possible vaccines. Researchers have been testing anything that is a potential lead for the vaccine.

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