Spores of the harmless gut bacterium Bacillus subtilis are already taken orally as a probiotic to aid digestive health. The research programme will involve genetically engineered spores to express vaccine determinants on their coat.
Such spores are able to survive ingestion, and can therefore deliver the vaccine to the immune system of the gut and induce immunity. Spores are very stable and do not require cold storage, and the oral delivery will avoid the problems associated with needles, making this technology particularly valuable in developing countries.
The initial disease targets will be malaria and tuberculosis, which kill millions of people annually, but the spore-based approach represents a platform technology to deliver vaccines against a wide range of diseases.
David Thatcher, Chief Executive of Cobra Biomanufacturing, commented: “This consortium brings together creative science from around the world including, UK, Germany, Italy, Austria and Vietnam with the aim of applying modern genetic techniques to develop cheap effective oral vaccines. Cobra is delighted to be collaborating on this innovative project which along with Cobra’s proprietary ORT-VAC technology reinforces Cobra’s position at the forefront of oral vaccine research.”
Gemma Price | alfa
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