Plant-made vaccine antigens and biopharmaceuticals
Plant cells are ideal bioreactors for the production and oral delivery of vaccines and biopharmaceuticals, eliminating the need for expensive fermentation, purification, cold storage, transportation and sterile delivery. Plant-made vaccines have been developed for two decades but none has advanced beyond Phase I. However, two plant-made biopharmaceuticals are now advancing through Phase II and Phase III human clinical trials. In this review, we evaluate the advantages and disadvantages of different plant expression systems (stable nuclear and chloroplast or transient viral) and their current limitations or challenges. We provide suggestions for advancing this valuable concept for clinical applications and conclude that greater research emphasis is needed on large-scale production, purification, functional characterization, oral delivery and preclinical evaluation.