Big companies using tobacco leaves, cannabis to develop Covid-19 vaccine

The quest to develop a Covid-19 vaccine is seeing pharmaceutical companies test and try plant-based products, including cannabis and tobacco leaves. This includes companies such as Kentucky Bioprocessing, Novavax, and ZYUS Life Sciences, Moneycontrol reported.

Tobacco-based vaccine

US-based Kentucky Bioprocessing is developing a vaccine against SARS-CoV-2, which is based on tobacco.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) revealed in its draft that the Covid-19 vaccine being developed by Kentucky is under Phase 1/2 trials. The firm is testing its experimental vaccine on 180 healthy volunteers in the US.

Kentucky Bioprocessing is harvesting tobacco plants that have been injected by the potential antigen which was developed by cloning a portion of SARS-CoV-2’s genetic sequence.

Following harvesting of the plant, the antigen is purified and administered as a vaccine.

Cannabis-based vaccine

While use of cannabis remains illegal in many parts of the world, it has proven beneficial in curing many underlying diseases.

ZYUS Life Sciences announced in July that it has reached a positive milestone in the development of Covid-19 vaccine components by achieving plant-based expression, isolation, and purification of a potential antigen for a SARS-CoV-2 vaccine — providing proof of concept for plant-based Covid-19 antigen production.

Cannabinoids are derived from the cannabis plant, including ∆9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), cannabidiol (CBD), or a combination of THC and CBD. Synthetic cannabinoids for medicinal use typically mimic the effects of specific cannabinoids such as THC.

In an interview with Canadian TV channel Global News, Zyus CEO Brent Zettl said: “The cannabis side of it really just helped us sort of determine the best ways to manufacture drugs, going forward.”

ZYUS noted that it has tested and demonstrated that the plant-based SARS-CoV-2 protein is recognised by antibodies in the serum of recovered Covid-19 patients, suggesting that plant-based protein, in this form of a vaccine, could potentially provide protection from Covid-19 infection.

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