Plant expression systems for production of hemagglutinin as a vaccine against influenza virus
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Many examples of a successful application of plant-based expression systems for production of biologically active recombinant proteins exist in the literature. These systems can function as inexpensive platforms for the large scale production of recombinant pharmaceuticals or subunit vaccines. Hemagglutinin (HA) is a major surface antigen of the influenza virus, thus it is in the centre of interests of various subunit vaccine engineering programs. Large scale production of recombinant HA in traditional expression systems, such as mammalian or insect cells, besides other limitations, is expensive and time-consuming. These difficulties stimulate an ever-increasing interest in plant-based production of this recombinant protein. Over the last few years many successful cases of HA production in plants, using both transient and stable expression systems have been reported. Various forms of recombinant HA, including monomers, trimers, virus like particles (VLPs) or chimeric proteins containing its fusion with other polypeptides were obtained and shown to maintain a proper antigenicity. Immunizations of animals (mice, ferrets, rabbits or chickens) with some of these plant-derived hemagglutinin variants were performed, and their effectiveness in induction of immunological response and protection against lethal challenge with influenza virus demonstrated. Plant-produced recombinant subunit vaccines and plant-made VLPs were successfully tested in clinical trials (Phase I and II) that confirmed their tolerance and immunogenicity.
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