Author(s): Streatfield SJ
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Abstract The induction of mucosal immunity is very important in conferring protection against pathogens that typically invade via mucosal surfaces. Delivery of a vaccine to a mucosal surface optimizes the induction of mucosal immunity. The apparent linked nature of the mucosal immune system allows delivery to any mucosal surface to potentially induce immunity at others. Oral administration is a very straightforward and inexpensive approach to deliver a vaccine to the mucosal lining of the gut. However, vaccines administered by this route are subject to proteolysis in the gastrointestinal tract. Thus, dose levels for protein subunit vaccines are likely to be very high and the antigen may need to be protected from proteolysis for oral delivery to be efficacious. Expression of candidate vaccine antigens in edible recombinant plant material offers an inexpensive means to deliver large doses of vaccines in encapsulated forms. Certain plant tissues can also stably store antigens for extensive periods of time at ambient temperatures, obviating the need for a cold-chain during vaccine storage and distribution, and so further limiting costs. Antigens can be expressed from transgenes stably incorporated into a host plant's nuclear or plastid genome, or from engineered plant viruses infected into plant tissues. Molecular approaches can serve to boost expression levels and target the expressed protein for appropriate post-translational modification. There is a wide range of options for processing plant tissues to allow for oral delivery of a palatable product. Alternatively, the expressed antigen can be enriched or purified prior to formulation in a tablet or capsule for oral delivery. Fusions to carrier molecules can stabilize the expressed antigen, aid in antigen enrichment or purification strategies, and facilitate delivery to effector sites in the gastrointestinal tract. Many antigens have been expressed in plants. In a few cases, vaccine candidates have entered into early phase clinical trials, and in the case of farmed animal vaccines into relevant animal trials.
This article was published in Methods
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