Dow to Make Vaccines from Plants; Will Use Genetic Engineering as Part of NIH $5.7 Million Research Deal

The Washington Times (Washington, DC), January 15, 2004 | Go to article overview

Dow to Make Vaccines from Plants; Will Use Genetic Engineering as Part of NIH $5.7 Million Research Deal


Byline: Tom Ramstack, THE WASHINGTON TIMES

Dow Chemical Co. yesterday announced a four-year, $5.7 million research agreement with the National Institutes of Health to develop vaccines from genetically engineered plants.

The agreement follows NIH requests for new vaccine technologies against infectious diseases, including biological weapons.

Plant-based vaccines are cheaper and easier to produce than existing vaccines, Dow officials said. The plant-based vaccines could be used for nearly any disease.

"This can be used in any situation in which there is a need to develop a vaccine quickly and vaccinate large numbers of people," said Dow spokeswoman Adrianne Proctor.

NIH is funding the project and Dow is managing it, which includes subcontracting some of the work to the University of Maryland.

Dow intends to develop vaccines from proteins produced on the leaves of greenhouse-grown plants. The proteins stimulate an immune response in the human body that blocks the development of disease.

Fraunhofer USA Center for Molecular Biotechnology in Newark, Del., is a subcontractor providing Dow with "plant viral particle" systems for the vaccines.

The systems avoid the traditional vaccine process of fermenting bacteria in sterile vats by growing the genetically engineered proteins on plants.

"The technology is extremely important because it allows patients access to a variety of drugs and makes them more accessible," said Lisa Dry, spokeswoman for the Biotechnology Industry Organization, a trade group for biotechnology companies. …

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Dow to Make Vaccines from Plants; Will Use Genetic Engineering as Part of NIH $5.7 Million Research Deal
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