BAT begins human tests on Kovid-19 candidate vaccine


British American Tobacco (BAT) is starting human testing on the non-profit Kovid-19 candidate vaccine.

According to the BAT statement, BAT is among the companies that develop vaccine candidates against the new type of coronavirus (Kovid-19) epidemic.

The candidate vaccine, developed with tobacco plant-based technology by Kentucky BioProcessing (KBP), BAT’s biotech affiliate in the USA, was approved by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and qualified to be among the vaccines that went into clinical trials.

The vaccine candidate (KBP-COVID-19; NCT04473690) developed by KBP, which focuses on R&D studies on alternative uses of tobacco, has become one of the limited number of vaccines that have passed pre-clinical tests in the world. A total of 180 healthy volunteers, who will be divided into two different age groups, between the ages of 18 and 49 and 50 and 70, were planned to participate in the Phase-1 experimental study.

If the Phase-1 clinical tests are positive, the button will be pressed for Phase-2 studies. With the completion of all pre-clinical tests, it is aimed to produce a vaccine that can reach up to 3 million doses per week within the framework of legal regulations.

Not for profit

In addition to the Kovid-19 vaccine studies, KBP continues its preparations on the tetravalent (four strains) influenza vaccine (KBP-V001; NCT04439695) using the tobacco plant.

BAT Scientific Research Director Dr. David O’Reilly reported the completion of Phase-1 clinical trials of the seasonal influenza vaccine.

Emphasizing that it is a very important step to switch to human trials with both Kovid-19 and seasonal flu vaccine candidates, O’Reilly said:

“We started the Kovid-19 vaccine studies, which we developed using BAT’s tobacco plant technology, in April 2020. The path we have taken in a short time is the biggest indicator of our commitment to innovation and science. We aim to contribute to the solution of this struggle with our vaccination studies. We do not aim for any profit in the Kovid-19 vaccine studies we carry out in order to adapt to the rapid change of the world. “

Characteristics of the Kovid-19 vaccine candidate

According to the information given, KBP provided immunoglobulin production by copying part of the genetic sequence of Kovid-19 for these vaccine candidate studies. The company, which transfers this substance to the fast-growing tobacco plant called “nicotiana benthamiana”, aims to neutralize the immune system of pathogens such as viruses and bacteria thanks to immunoglobulin.

The vaccine, developed using tobacco plants, is expected to be produced in as little as 6 weeks instead of months in traditional methods. Unlike traditional vaccines, which usually require a cold environment, it remains stable at room temperature. Most importantly, it is planned to provide an effective immunity with a single dose of this vaccine.