Innovative Use of Moths in Vaccine Production Revolutionizes Pandemic Response

Innovative Use of Moths in Vaccine Production Revolutionizes Pandemic Response

Scientists have discovered an unconventional method of vaccine production using moths, which could drastically reduce the time it takes to develop pandemic vaccines. This groundbreaking technique, described as cheaper, simpler, and faster than current approaches, has the potential to revolutionize our ability to respond quickly to emerging viruses.

Spanish biotech company Algenex is employing moths as “living bioreactors” to grow vaccines. Similar to the way chicken eggs have been utilized to produce influenza shots for decades, scientists are using moth chrysalises to grow the antigens needed for vaccines. However, moths offer several advantages over chicken eggs, including the ability to produce a wider variety of vaccine antigens and faster production rates.

Dr. José Escribano, founder of Algenex, explained that the use of moths as bioreactors is not only cheap and simple but also highly efficient. This innovative approach has garnered the support of the Coalition of Epidemic Preparedness (Cepi), which has awarded a £2.5 million grant to further develop this technology.

The process involves modifying a harmless pathogen called baculovirus, which infects insects, to produce specific antigens. Robots then inject this modified virus into moth chrysalises at a rate of 6,000 cocoons per hour. Inside the moth, the virus replicates rapidly, resulting in the production of large quantities of antigen within just a few days.

The use of moths as bioreactors has already been successful in producing animal vaccines, and now researchers are confident that it can be applied to human vaccines as well. Cepi believes that this approach could save critical time in vaccine development and facilitate the rapid manufacturing and distribution of vaccines during future pandemics.

While this method produces protein-based vaccines rather than mRNA shots like those developed for Covid-19, experts endorse the use of “living bioreactors” as a valid and promising strategy. The current grant from Cepi will be used to conduct a pre-clinical study for an influenza vaccine, demonstrating the potential of this technology in a pandemic scenario.

In conclusion, harnessing moths as “living bioreactors” represents a major breakthrough in vaccine production. This innovative technique offers an efficient and cost-effective solution to the timely development of vaccines, establishing a new paradigm for global health security.

FAQ Section:

Q: What is the unconventional method of vaccine production mentioned in the article?
A: The unconventional method of vaccine production mentioned in the article involves using moths as “living bioreactors” to grow vaccines.

Q: How does this method differ from using chicken eggs?
A: While chicken eggs have been used for decades to produce influenza shots, moths offer several advantages over chicken eggs. Moths can produce a wider variety of vaccine antigens and have faster production rates.

Q: Why are moths considered efficient as bioreactors?
A: Moths are considered efficient as bioreactors because the process of injecting a modified virus into moth chrysalises results in rapid replication of the virus and the production of large quantities of antigen within just a few days.

Q: Who is supporting the use of moths as bioreactors for vaccine production?
A: The Coalition of Epidemic Preparedness (Cepi) is supporting the use of moths as bioreactors for vaccine production. They have awarded a £2.5 million grant to further develop this technology.

Q: Has this method been successful in producing vaccines for animals?
A: Yes, this method has already been successful in producing animal vaccines. Researchers are now confident that it can be applied to human vaccines as well.

Q: What is the potential impact of using moths as bioreactors for vaccine production?
A: The use of moths as bioreactors has the potential to save critical time in vaccine development and facilitate rapid manufacturing and distribution of vaccines during future pandemics.

Q: Does this method produce protein-based vaccines or mRNA shots like those developed for Covid-19?
A: This method produces protein-based vaccines, not mRNA shots like those developed for Covid-19.

Q: What will the current grant from Cepi be used for?
A: The current grant from Cepi will be used to conduct a pre-clinical study for an influenza vaccine, demonstrating the potential of this technology in a pandemic scenario.

Definitions:

Antigens: Substances that stimulate an immune response in the body, typically used in vaccines to generate an immune response against a specific pathogen.
Bioreactors: Containers or systems used to grow and maintain biological material, such as cells or viruses, under controlled conditions for the production of specific substances.
Baculovirus: A type of virus that infects insects, used in this method to produce specific antigens.

Suggested related link:
Algenex – Official website of Spanish biotech company Algenex, which is mentioned in the article.

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