Bluetongue is a disease of ruminants caused by bluetongue virus serotypes (BTV), which have caused serious outbreaks worldwide. Commercially, vaccines are available but there are risks. Recombinant vaccines are preferable to minimize the risks associated with these vaccines.
The team of Albertha R. van Zyl from the University of Cape Town in South Afrika developed two novel protein body (PB) plant-produced vaccines Zera¬?-VP2ep and Zera¬?-VP2. Zera¬?-VP2ep contained sequences of multiple BTV serotypes and Zera¬?-VP2 contained the full-length BTV-8 VP2 codon-optimized sequence. Zera¬?-VP2ep was aimed at stimulating immune response to several BTV serotypes.
Both vaccines were successfully made in tobacco (Nicotiana benthamiana) via Agrobacterium-mediated expression. Analysis showed that the expressed proteins accumulated within the cytoplasm of plant cells. Preliminary immunogenicity studies showed that the vaccine candidates elicited anti-VP2 immune responses in mice.
These results demonstrate that the candidate vaccines have the potential as BTV vaccines and development of vaccines through plant platforms should be further investigated.