Tobacco-based Vaccine Initiative Launched

Leaders of the Texas Plant-Expressed Vaccine Consortium today announced a biotherapeutic manufacturing initiative designed to show proof of concept for a landmark new technology that could dramatically increase the nation’s capability to produce vaccines for infectious diseases, including influenza.

Project GreenVax, which utilizes tobacco plants rather than the current egg-based vaccine technology, holds the promise of shortening vaccine production to a fraction of the current time, allowing rapid response to newly emerging viruses not possible with current technology. The majority of funding for the project is provided by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA).

The Consortium, comprised of G-Con, LLC and The Texas A&M University System, designed Project GreenVax for a projected final scale capacity of 100 million doses per month. The flexibility of the plant-based system, combined with its low cost and ability to massively scale, may provide vaccine protection not only to citizens of the United States, but to many parts of the world that cannot currently afford vaccines.

The GreenVax Project will be headquartered on a secure, 21-acre site on the campus of the Texas A&M Health Science Center in Bryan, Texas. The custom-designed 145,000 square foot biotherapeutic production facility will be constructed and managed by G-Con. The company will integrate their proprietary modular, mobile, clean room “pods” in which the specialized purification and laboratory equipment will be located. These pods, as well as the flexible processes and facility design that led to the GreenVax project, were designed and developed for the National Center for Therapeutics Manufacturing (NCTM) – a State of Texas core biological pharmaceutical manufacturing, research and education facility now in construction on the Texas A&M University campus, under the management of the Texas Engineering Experiment Station (TEES) and supported by the Texas Emerging Technology Fund.

“Project GreenVax and the NCTM are game-changers. They have the potential to transform not just vaccine production, but the entire biopharmaceutical manufacturing industry,” said Dr. Brett Giroir, vice chancellor for research for the A&M System and executive director of the Institute for Innovative Therapeutics (IIT), the newly established institute representing the partnership between the system’s multiple state-of-the-art research facilities.

“Although the initial goal is to produce influenza vaccines,” added Dr. Barry Holtz, president of G-Con, “plant-based production is highly adaptable to other infectious diseases and even cancer.”

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