Enhanced Research Capability (Theme 4)

We develop technologies to facilitate our research and to accelerate its translation into new processes and products of value to humankind.

In particular, we will enhance and develop our capacity to produce large amounts of valuable proteins and products very rapidly in the leaves of tobacco plants (Nicotiana benthamiana). This “transient expression” system has many uses in our research, and great potential as a new manufacturing process.

One major use will be for the manufacture of vaccines. The transient expression system can rapidly produce proteins that are derived from disease-causing viruses, but are themselves harmless.

When introduced into mammals and humans, these plant-produced proteins induce the production of antibodies which provide immunity against the virus from which they were derived. We and others have already shown that the system can be used to produce vaccines against bluetongue, seasonal and bird flu, and polio.

Research in Theme 4 will make use of the new, large-scale facility for transient expression housed at Leaf Systems on the Norwich Research Park.

Project Leaders: Prof George Lomonossoff, Prof Sarah O’Connor, Prof Anne Osbourn