Medicago of Canada begins human trials of COVID-19 vaccine derived from the tobacco plant. Image Courtesy – Business Insider
Medicago, a Canadian biopharmaceutical company, has started their trial of the vaccine in the first phase. 180 healthy and adult volunteers are being vaccinated. Philip Morris International, a multinational cigarette and tobacco manufacturing company, is in charge of the vaccine trial with Medicago.
Nathalie Landry, executive vice president of scientific and medical research at Medicago, said that the vaccine was made from vegetable ingredients. So it was completely safe and secure in the human body. Medicago has a record of making plant-vaccines for 20 years. It is hoped that this vaccine will also be effective in preventing coronavirus. After the first phase trial, the second and third phase trials will be held in October.
The vaccine was developed from Nicotiana benthamiana, an Australian species of plant (Nicotiana indigenous). The plants of this species are homologous to the tobacco plant.
The vaccine was made from vegetable ingredients and it was completely safe and secure in the human body. Image Courtesy – CBC.ca
Video Courtesy – YouTube
The genetic code of the three types of corona spike proteins was filled in the leaves of these plants in a special scientific way. The researchers said that with the help of bacteria, the genetic information of viral proteins is filled in the leaves of these plants. After 7-9 days, the plant produces viral protein-like components. Vaccine candidates have been designed from these ingredients. Since it is a vegetable ingredient, it is not as infectious as corona protein. Researchers claim that it will activate the process of making antibodies by entering human body cells.
Bruce Clark, the President and Chief Executive Officer of the company, told that the vaccine is being given in doses of 3.75 micrograms, 7.5 micrograms and 15 micrograms. He also told that if the three-phase trial of the vaccine becomes successful, 100 million doses of the vaccine will be produced by 2021.
Medicago has been working on the vaccine since March 2020. In the month of March 2020, the company said that it had created “virus-like particles” (VLPs) on tree leaves. This VLP is the first step in creating a vaccine. The scientists say that this substance can enter the body and mimic the spike glycoproteins of the coronavirus. The body cells will then start making antibodies by looking at the material like this viral protein. Since the core genetic material of the virus is not present, this material is not infectious. It will not do any damage to the body cells.
It is a privately owned company and headquarter of the company is situated in Quebec City, Canada. Phillip Morris and Mitsubishi Tanabe Pharma are the owners of 33% and 67% stakeholder respectively. Medicago is building a facility in Quebec City and the facility is expected to prepare a billion units of doses per year by the year 2023.