Japanese pharma firm to launch first-ever plant-based COVID vaccine?
Unlike other vaccinations, this vaccine technique is made up of virus-like particles that imitate the target virus and do not involve a live virus, making it reasonably safe for people.
Mitsubishi Tanabe Pharma, a Japanese pharmaceutical company, plans to produce the world's first plant-based Covid-19 vaccine, less expensive, simpler to carry, and store than traditional vaccines, as per reports. According to the Financial Times, the vaccine candidate will be produced by the Osaka-based company's subsidiary Medicago from a plant in the tobacco family by December 2021. Unlike other vaccinations, this vaccine technique is made up of virus-like particles that imitate the target virus and do not involve a live virus, making it reasonably safe for people.
The Japanese pharmaceutical firm hopes to enter into a market dominated by big drugmakers Pfizer, Moderna, and AstraZeneca using this innovative approach. However, when new strains of the virus develop, scientists predict worldwide demand for Covid vaccinations to remain high, according to the research.
"As with seasonal flu, we don't anticipate demand [for Covid-19 vaccinations] to vanish overnight, and there is still a lot of uncertainty about new variations," Toshifumi Tada, Mitsubishi's head of vaccine business development, was cited as saying.
"We feel there is benefit in extending vaccination choices," Tada added.
So far, no plant-based vaccination has been licenced for human use. However, the chances of such a jab appear plausible because plant leaves grow fast, reducing the production process and expenses. Medicago's vaccine can be made in five to eight weeks, instead of a standard seasonal flu vaccination, which can take eight months to a year to complete. Faster manufacturing, according to the study, will also make it easier to adapt to new strains. Furthermore, plant-based vaccinations do not need to be deep-frozen during shipping because Medicago's vaccine may be stored at temperatures ranging from 2 to 8 degrees Celsius, according to the research.
Medicago is collaborating with the UK-based GlaxoSmithKline on the vaccine adjuvant and is now analysing phase-3 trial results for the Covid-19 vaccine, including 24,000 individuals from Canada, the United States, the United Kingdom, Brazil, Argentina, and Mexico. It also started a smaller-scale clinical study in Japan this month to obtain regulatory clearance by March. According to trial data, no significant adverse effects of its vaccine candidate have been observed, according to the article. The firm intends to produce around 80 million doses at its North Carolina factory and hopes to increase its yearly capacity to 1 billion once its next plant in Quebec City, Canada, enters operations in 2024.