Could a breakthrough COVID-19 vax come from tobacco leaves?

April 1, 2020

Kentucky BioProcessing says it has launched pre-clinical testing a COVID-19 vaccine based off a drug development platform that uses tobacco leaves.

The company is owned by Reynolds American, a subsidiary of British American Tobacco. Reynold bought the biotech aimed at drug development in 2014, but has reportedly offered limited public information about its operations. KBP did make headlines a few years ago, however, when it announced that it had partnered with Mapp Biopharmaceuticals to develop an Ebola treatment that has, so far, not won FDA approval. 

For the coronavirus vaccine, which the company says it is developing on a not-for-profit basis, KBP used a cloned portion of the genetic sequencing of COVID-19 and then created an antigen that is reproduced in tobacco plants. 

The company said that if successful, a vaccine made using this method would have several advantages over conventional vaccines, including its stability at room temperature and safety profile.

Read the Reuters report.