OWENSBORO, Ky. (WEHT)– Kentucky Bioprocessing has the FDA’s approval to start clinical trials in humans for its COVID-19 vaccine. The subsidiary of British American Tobacco is using the plant to fend off the virus. Tobacco has been linked to diseases in the past, but now it’s being used to try to help immune systems fight off COVID-19.
“We had to isolate a portion of that virus that we think is the infected portion, then we clone it and we reproduce it in plants,” explained Kentucky Bioprocessing President Hugh Haydon. After that coronavirus protein is extracted and purified, it’s attached to a modified plant virus. This concoction is aimed to tricking immune systems into fighting off coronavirus without being injected with the actual infectious disease.
“Not all vaccines are the same, they don’t all work the same, have the same features,” said Haydon. He believes even though it could take a few years before the public might be able to get this vaccine, there will still be benefits to KBP’s vaccine. “There is belief that we need more than one and probably more than two vaccines to be available.”
One of the benefits of KBP’s vaccine is it’s ability to be kept at normal refrigeration temperatures.
“We believe that our vaccine, if we are successful in this development, can find a place and serve a need that’s going to be there going forwards,” said Haydon.
KBP is hoping to test their COVID-19 vaccine on 180 healthy volunteers during phase 1 which is expected to begin this month.
“We will monitor those people, looking for any signals of any safety issues. We also look for, as a secondary measure, immune response,” said Haydon.
(This story was originally published on December 16, 2020)