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Strategies for the plant-based expression of dengue subunit vaccines

Authors

  • Yun-Kiam Yap,

    1. Plant Molecular Virology Laboratory, Institute of Molecular Biosciences, Mahidol University, 25/25 Phuttamontol Sai 4, Salaya, Nakorn Pathom, 73170, Thailand
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  • Duncan R. Smith

    Corresponding author
    1. Molecular Pathology Laboratory, Institute of Molecular Biosciences, Mahidol University, 25/25 Phuttamontol Sai 4, Salaya, Nakorn Pathom, 73170, Thailand
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To whom correspondence should be addressed (email duncan_r_smith@hotmail.com).

Abstract

Despite significant efforts in many countries, there is still no commercially viable dengue vaccine. Currently, attention is focused on the development of either live attenuated vaccines or live attenuated chimaeric vaccines using a variety of backbones. Alternate vaccine approaches, such as whole inactivated virus and subunit vaccines are in the early stages of development, and are each associated with different problems. Subunit vaccines offer the advantage of providing a uniform antigen of well-defined nature, without the added risk of introducing any genetic material into the person being inoculated. Preliminary trials of subunit vaccines (using dengue E protein) in rhesus monkeys have shown promising results. However, the primary disadvantages of dengue subunit vaccines are the low levels of expression of dengue proteins in mammalian or insect cells, as well as the added unknown risks of antigens produced from mammalian cells containing other potential sources of contamination. In the past two decades, plants have emerged as an alternative platform for expression of biopharmaceutical products, including antigens of bacterial, fungal or viral origin. In the present minireview, we highlight the current plant expression technologies used for expression of biopharmaceutical products, with an emphasis on plants as a production system for dengue subunit vaccines.

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