British American Tobacco (BAT) has edged closer towards making a COVID-19 vaccine using tobacco plants after receiving approval from the FDA to test its candidate on humans.
The Vype-maker’s US biotech arm, Kentucky BioProcessing (KBP), is to begin enrolment for the study of the vaccine candidate shortly, the company announced on Wednesday.
KBP-COVID-19; NCT04473690 will be one of a number of vaccines in development to have progressed beyond the pre-clinical testing stage.
The tobacco giant also says that the vaccine is stable at room temperature, unlike the Pfizer/BioNTech jab, which must be kept below -70C.
BAT‘s director of scientific research, Dr David O’Reilly, said:
“Moving into human trials with both our COVID-19 and seasonal flu vaccine candidates is a significant milestone and reflects our considerable efforts to accelerate the development of our emerging biologicals portfolio.
“It is our unique plant-based vaccine technology, which acts as a fast, efficient host for the production of antigens for a variety of diseases, that has enabled us to make this progress and respond to the urgent global need for safe and effective treatments and vaccines.
“This is part of our ongoing commitment to innovation and science, which are fundamental to our business. As a company committed to building A Better Tomorrow, we are proud to play our part in the global fight against this virus and – hopefully – we can contribute to the solution.”
The development of the vaccine was met with scepticism when it was announced in April.
A spokesperson for anti-smoking charity Action on Smoking and Health (ASH) tweeted: “How can BAT be trusted when it was convicted in the US for a *decades-long* conspiracy to mislead the public about smoking risks, secondhand smoke, nicotine addiction, and deceptive marketing of light and low-tar cigarettes?”
And in 2014, KBP announced that it had co-created an effective Ebola treatment called ZMapp, but the drug is still yet to be approved by the FDA.
Source: British American Tobacco