Akdeniz University in Turkey has developed an anti-Covid-19 drug and vaccine candidate using a protein produced by the tobacco plant Nicotiana Benthamiana, reports Hurriyet Daily News.
The product is based on an angiotensin-converting enzyme 2 (ACE2), an enzyme attached to the human body’s cell membranes in the lungs, arteries, heart, kidney and intestines. The Covid-19 virus blocks ACE2, which leads to significant health problems.
“With the transient plant expression system, we have achieved a high rate of production of this enzyme,” said Tarlan Mammedov, a member of the university’s faculty of agriculture and a member of the vaccine science board of the Biotechnology Institute of the Presidency of the Turkish Institutes of Health.
The treatment can be applied as an injection and as a spray, according to Mammedov.
Akdeniz University tested its vaccine candidates on mice with live viruses and found a high level of inhibition of the live virus from entering the cell.
It is now seeking funding to conduct clinical trials with humans. Mammedov said the drug could be released within four months.
Akdeniz University is not the first institution to use tobacco for vaccine development. Other tobacco-based Covid-19 vaccine candidates are being developed by British American Tobacco, Medicago and Chulalongkorn University in Bangkok.