Plant-based BioProduction of Chicken IL-12 Adjuvant for Bird Flu Vaccine
The primary focus of this project is to develop new high valued health related agricultural products through the application of biotechnological research approaches. Domestic and wild fowl, as the disease reservoir for avian influenza virus, play a central role in the re-emergence of this potentially pandemic disease pathogen. The increasing threat of pandemic flu in domestic fowl and human populations has activated governments, agricultural, and medical health agencies in the US and globally to initiate multifaceted research and development efforts aimed at mitigating this threat. New technologies for producing inexpensive high-quality agricultural vaccines to control avian flu at its source will be critical to successful intervention in the disease cycle supporting the threat of pandemic flu in both domestic poultry and humans. This project focuses on the bioproduction of avian interleukin-12 (IL-12) to address both of these needs. IL-12 is a potent adjuvant and key modulator of cell-mediated immunity and greatly enhances the efficacy of influenza vaccines in animal studies. There are currently no sources for IL-12 from any avian species. Phase I of this SBIR project successfully met its objectives in demonstrating the feasibility of plant-based production of bioactive chicken IL-12. We isolated and tested multiple ChIL-12 gene constructs and demonstrated effective expression in plants. We selected a His-tagged native ChIL-12 construct that provides product yields sufficient to support scaled up production for Phase II research and commercialization for the research reagent market. Most importantly, Phase I demonstrated that plant synthesized ChIL-12 shows excellent immune stimulating bioactivity in signature in vitro bioassays using chicken splenocytes. Phase II will focus on advancing ChIL-12 and related products (antibodies, ELISA) to the research reagent market and establishing large-scale production strategies in a transgenic seed-based plant system. Based on our successful Phase I, Phase II will also focus on production scale-up, demonstration of efficacy in avian vaccine trials, and assessment of ChIL-12 activity across avian species. Co-formulation of this strong immuno-adjuvant with avian flu vaccines will be tested to demonstrate whether these poultry vaccines elicit heightened immunity necessary for preventing cross species avian flu transmission. Plant-based bio-production may provide the cost and scale advantages to enable these benefits to be widely integrated into avian influenza vaccine strategies for both domestic and wild bird populations. Success of this Phase II SBIR in demonstrating significant "dose sparing" activity by ChIL-12 in avian flu vaccines will provide the basis for a strong Phase III commercialization program and a significant contribution to US and global efforts to mitigate the danger to humans and animals of pandemic influenza. An effective IL-12 adjuvant may also have broader applications as a "universal" adjuvant for other diseases and vaccines.
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504 UNIVERSITY LOOP EAST Jonesboro, AR 72401
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