It is a sad fact that a leading cause of infant mortality in developing countries continues to be from infectious diseases which are quite preventable. New technologies which can both deliver vaccines en mass and without the need for syringes, as well as induce a strong mucosal immune response, could revolutionize the accessibility of much needed vaccines in developing countries. Approaches range from the use of inhalation devices which deliver the vaccine antigen in the form of an aerosol spray, to patches containing microneedles which can deliver the desired vaccine antigen across the skin barrier. A third tactic involves the development of plant production platforms as delivery systems for oral vaccines.
Plant virus expression vectors set the stage as production platforms for biopharmaceutical proteins. (2012 ) Virology 433(1): 1-6. doi: 10.1016/j.virol.2012.06.012
Transgenic plants present enormous potential as a cost-effective and safe platform for large-scale production of vaccines and other therapeutic proteins. A number of different technologies are under development for the production of pharmaceutical proteins from plant tissues. One method used to express high levels of protein in plants involves the employment of plant virus expression vectors. Plant virus vectors have been designed to carry vaccine epitopes as well as full therapeutic proteins such as monoclonal antibodies in plant tissue both safely and effectively. Biopharmaceuticals such as these offer enormous potential on many levels, from providing relief to those who have little access to modern medicine, to playing an active role in the battle against cancer. This review describes the current design and status of plant virus expression vectors used as production platforms for biopharmaceutical proteins.