A University of New Mexico scientist is partnering with AntoXa’s parent company, PlantForm Corporation, to advance research aimed at improving understanding of Ebola virus and improving existing vaccines by inducing more effective immune responses to infection.
The project employs PlantForm’s tobacco-plant-based vivoXPRESS® biopharmaceutical manufacturing system. The aim is to express up to nine unique glycoproteins found on Filoviridae, the family of viruses that cause Ebola and Marburg disease, two severe and often fatal viral hemorrhagic fevers that afflict humans and non-human primates.
A wholly-owned subsidiary of PlantForm Corporation, AntoXa holds an exclusive licence to the vivoXPRESS® biopharmaceutical manufacturing platform to produce countermeasures for ricin, sarin, soman and Ebola Sudan, as well as other biodefense therapeutics.
The three-month project with Dr. Steven Bradfute builds upon PlantForm’s recent collaboration with the National Research Council of Canada Industrial Research Assistance Program (IRAP) and the U.S. Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases (USAMRIID). That project successfully demonstrated that antibodies produced using vivoXPRESS® neutralized the Sudan strain of Ebola as effectively as antibodies produced in other manufacturing systems.
“We’re pleased to be able to contribute to improved understanding of the mechanisms of Ebola infection,” said Dr. Don Stewart, President and CEO of AntoXa and PlantForm. “We look forward to developing more effective treatments for these deadly diseases.”
The glycoproteins to be expressed in this project are molecules found on the surface of five different types of filoviruses. They help protect the genetic material of the virus particle until it is ready to infect a suitable host, and play a key role in attachment and fusion with the host cell.
Bradfute’s work focuses on immune responses and vaccination strategies related to hemorrhagic fever viruses, including trying to understand how Ebola is able to block the body’s defences. Because all potential Ebola vaccines work by triggering an immune response to glycoprotein, Bradfute will use the glycoproteins produced by vivoXPRESS® in studies aimed at modifying glycoprotein so that it triggers a more effective immune response.