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Tobacco-based vaccine ready for trial

07 Jun 2021. A vaccine for COVID-19 that was created from a tobacco plant is now ready to trial in the UK and other countries, reports Wales Online.

The unique type of vaccine is derived from the Nicotiana benthamiana plant that contains nicotine and grows in Australia. The new vaccine named CoVLP produces a virus like particle (VLP) which mimics the potentially lethal spike protein that hooks onto cells, reports Wales Online. According to scientists, it can boost antibodies ten-fold and after a successful trial of 180 Canadian participants who received two doses of the vaccine three weeks apart, clinical trials are ready to take place in the UK and other countries across the world.

The Canadian study showed that after six weeks the candidates produced neutralising antibodies up to ten times higher than those seen in recovering patients, according to Wales Online.

"The plant-derived candidate vaccine was well tolerated and elicited an immune response," said corresponding author Dr Brian Ward, of biopharmaceutical company Medicago, Quebec City.

According to Dr Ward, the vaccine does not cause an infection but teaches the body how to fight it which in turn leads to immunity. He went on to say that, it was of upmost importance to keep developing new vaccines in order to keep up with global demand.

"No single vaccine can be produced in sufficient quantities to address the global need fast enough, and different formulations may be required for varied populations and environments."