New progress with oral hepatitis B vaccine

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Researchers from Applied Biotechnology Institute and Iowa State University have made progress in developing an oral hepatitis B vaccine delivered via genetically modified corn that would require no refrigeration and cost less than $1 per dose to manufacture. 

The majority of vaccines that are created are developed with inactivated or weakened pathogens made with eggs, but the new vaccine uses genetically modified corn to create virus-like hepatitis B particles that are non-infectious. 

"Even though an effective injectable hepatitis B vaccine was developed more than 30 years ago, high infection rates still persist in areas of the world where people cannot afford the vaccine or do not have reliable refrigeration," John Howard, president of Applied Biotechnology Institute, said. "This research brings us a step closer to vaccines that can be distributed throughout the world without refrigeration requirements as well as administered quickly and inexpensively."

The researchers used a supercritical fluid extraction as a separation technique to rid the corn of fat. Then the flour made from the corn was baked into edible wafers.

"Our work provides the first insight on how various methods of processing of plant material can affect the structure of the virus-like particles," Shweta Shah, a staff scientist in the University of Iowa, said.   "Processing affects the structure of the virus-like particles that are formed, as well as the efficacy of the vaccine."

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Applied Biotechnology Institute Iowa State University

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