The basis of the new unusual vaccine is virus-like particles, similar to circulating strains of influenza and isolated from the Australian tobacco plant Nicotiana benthamiana, specially bred for the production of viral proteins.
The plant-based vaccine has already passed two stages of testing, in which 23, 000 people took part. As evidenced by the results, it turned out to be not only safe, but also comparable in effectiveness with the currently used vaccines.
The Achilles heel of such vaccines is their limited duration, since constantly mutating viruses nullify their effectiveness as soon as the next flu outbreak.
Most influenza vaccines are made from fragments of the virus grown inside chicken eggs or in the laboratory inside cells, which can take up to several months after scientists figure out which flu strains they are effective against.
Clinical trials of the "tobacco vaccine" were carried out with financial support from a Canadian biotechnology company that developed a method for its production. The plant-based vaccine minimized the antibody response in the elderly, which was expected. At the same time, it contributed to a significant increase in the number of immune cells capable of responding to influenza infections.