Leaf Expression Systems have been awarded the following grants:
Leaf Expression Systems is working with the John Innes Centre and Professor George Lomonossoff’s group on a UK Vaccine R&D Network (UKVRDN) grant entitled “A platform for the rapid production of candidate vaccines and standards by plant-based transient expression for response to global viral threats”.
Leaf Expression Systems and the JIC will enable the development of generic production and isolation techniques for the rapid delivery of Virus Like Particles (VLPs) against both existing and emerging threats such as Chikungunya virus (CHIKV), Dengue virus (DENV) and Zika virus (ZIKV), using the rapid plant-based expression technology, Hypertrans®.
Initial work has commenced by the John Innes Centre to identify suitable candidates for Dengue, Zika and Chikungunya VLPs that can be passed to Leaf Expression Systems for scale-up.
The project will run for 18 months and will finish in September 2018. Leaf Expression Systems will be responsible for the scale-up of suitable candidates that can then be evaluated in appropriate models to test for efficacy. The goals of the grant are to provide at least two possible VLP candidates that can be taken forward for further clinical evaluation and ultimately commercialisation.
Small Business Research Initiative (SBRI)/Department of Health – Vaccines for Global Development
In April 2017 Leaf Expression Systems were awarded a grant by the SBRI and Department of Health entitled “Development of Virus-Like Particles as vaccines against emerging viral diseases”.
This grant is a 12-month funded project which aims to develop new VLP vaccine constructs from two of the most challenging viral targets that are considered a high-priority, namely Chikungunya virus (CHIKV) and Rift Valley Fever virus (RVFV). The constructs will be configured for Plant Transient Expression (PTE) with the ultimate aim to deliver VLP vaccine products that are both inexpensive to manufacture and capable of rapid surge production for initial pre-clinical evaluation.
The team at Leaf Expression Systems are responsible for developing and then scaling up suitable target proteins that show good efficacy when evaluated. The grant is, in particular, focused on technologies that allow the rapid prototyping of target vaccines in the event of a UK pandemic, but also are cost effective for use in low middle-income countries (LMICs).
The technology employed by Leaf Expression Systems is particularly suited for the grant aims using the propriety HyperTrans technology and the use of plants which allow rapid scale-up.
Horizons 2020 Research and Innovation Framework Programme European Funded Project: Pharma Factory
In June, Leaf Expression Systems were notified that as part of a European based consortium led by St. George’s Hospital, London, they had been successful in a grant proposal. The focus of the grant “Building the product pipeline for commercial demonstration of Plant Molecular Factories” is to bring together both academic partners and commercial organisations to develop the plant based product platform for future bio-pharmaceutical products. In total 9 academic groups are working with 4 commercial organisations to develop the platform around plant based production facilities.
Leaf Expression is acting as one of the commercial companies in the consortium to offer scale-up and development of potential products. In the first instance, this involves working with a group based in Spain on a potential diagnostic protein. Work on the grant is expected to last for four years and, along with the science to develop towards commercialisation products there, is a large amount of time set aside to ensure there is acceptance from Regulatory bodies and the wider community of the suitability of products developed and manufactured from plants. Leaf Expression Systems is expecting to play a key role in working with Regulators to ensure that plant based products can be taken through to commercial realisation.