Tokyo, Feb 23 (EFE).- Japanese pharma company Mitsubishi Tanabe has developed a vaccine production process using tobacco leaves which allows it to manufacture the vaccines at one sixth of the time taken normally, Japanese financial daily Nikkei reported Tuesday.
The influenza virus used to develop vaccines is normally grown in chicken eggs with the entire process taking around half a year.
There are also methods, including those in which insects are used to incubate the virus, which reduce the time to approximately three months, but the new method with tobacco leaves reduces the production time to a month.
The Osaka-based company has created the technique using technology developed by the Canadian company Medicago (which it acquired in 2013) to implant genetic material in leaves which produce flu-like particles containing antigens, which cause antibodies to be produced.
Tobacco is cheap, grows quickly and has plenty of leaves, making it an ideal incubator for the vaccines.
The company hopes to facilitate quality control processes and reduce costs by growing the vaccines in greenhouses.
Since the particles generated in the leaves are not live (as in other cases), the risk of infection too, is minimal.
Meanwhile, the drug company is in the final stage of testing the safety and effectiveness of vaccines produced through this method and will conduct a series of clinical trials in the United States end 2016 with a view to launching it between 2018-2020, said the daily.
The vaccines will be released first in the United States due to strict restrictions in Japan on production processes using genetic modification, according to Mitsubishi Tanabe.
Mitsubishi Tanabe is also conducting trials for bird flu and H7 influenza vaccines produced in tobacco leaves.