BAT Working on Potential COVID-19 Vaccine Through US Bio-tech Subsidiary
Potential vaccine in development for
COVID-19 using new, fast-growing tobacco plant technology – pre-clinical
testing under way
Tobacco plants offer the potential for
faster and safer vaccine development compared to conventional methods
manufacture 1-3 million doses of vaccine per week
April 1, 2020: BAT’sUS bio-tech subsidiary, Kentucky
BioProcessing (KBP), isdeveloping a
potential vaccine for COVID-19 and is now in pre-clinical testing. If testing
goes well, BAT is hopeful that, with the right partners and support from
government agencies, between 1 and 3 million doses of the vaccine could be
manufactured per week, beginning in June.
While KBP remains a commercial operation, the intention is that its work around the
Covid-19 vaccine project will be carried out on a not for profit basis.
The vaccine in development uses BAT’s proprietary, fast-growing
tobacco plant technology which has several advantages over conventional vaccine
It is potentially safer given that
tobacco plants can’t host pathogens which cause human disease.
It is faster because the elements of the
vaccine accumulate in tobacco plants much more quickly – 6 weeks in tobacco
plants versus several months using conventional methods.
The vaccine formulation KBP is developing
remains stable at room temperature, unlike conventional vaccines which often
It has the
potential to deliver an effective immune response in a single dose.
BAT’s US subsidiary, Reynolds American Inc, acquired KBP in
2014, with the aim of using some of its unique tobacco extraction technology to
aid further development of its new category non-combustible products.
In 2014, KBP made headlines as one of the few companies with an effective
treatment for Ebola, having manufactured ZMapp™ with California-based company
Mapp BioPharmaceuticals in partnership with the U.S. Biomedical Advanced
Research and Development Authority (BARDA).
KBP recently cloned a portion of COVID-19’s genetic sequence which led to the
development of a potential antigen - a substance which induces an immune
response in the body and in particular, the production of antibodies. This
antigen was then inserted into tobacco plants for reproduction and, once the
plants were harvested, the antigen was then purified, and is now undergoing
BAT is now exploring partnerships with government agencies to bring its vaccine to
clinical studies as soon as possible. Through collaborations with government
and third-party manufacturers, BAT believes that between 1 and 3 million doses
per week could be manufactured.
Dr David O’Reilly, Director of Scientific
Research, BAT said: “We are engaged withthe US Food and Drug
Administration and are seeking guidance on next steps. We have also engaged
with the UK’s Department for Health and Social Care, and BARDA in the US, to
offer our support and access to our research with the aim of trying to expedite
the development of a vaccine for Covid-19.
“Vaccine development is challenging and
complex work, but we believe we have made a significant break-through with our
tobacco plant technology platform and stand ready to work with Governments and
all stakeholders to help win the war against Covid-19. We fully align with the
United Nations plea, for a whole-of-society approach to combat global problems.
“KBP has been exploring alternative uses
of the tobacco plant for some time. One such alternative use is the development
of plant-based vaccines. We are committed to contributing to the global effort
to halt the spread of Covid-19 using this technology.”
Currently this is a potential vaccine candidate, not a
vaccine or a cure, given this is early stages of the development process. BAT
has unrivalled knowledge and expertise of tobacco and hopes its subsidiary KBP
can contribute to the cause.
About BAT: BAT is a leading, multi-category
consumer goods business, established in1902.
Our purpose is to build A Better Tomorrow
by reducing the health impact of our business through offering a greater choice
of enjoyable and less risky products for our consumers. Our ambition is to
increasingly transition our revenues from cigarettes to non-combustible
products over time.
About Kentucky Bioprocessing (KBP): BAT owned KBP is
located in Owensboro, Ky.,where it
began operations in 2006. In January 2014, KBP was acquired by and became an
independently operated, wholly-owned subsidiary of Reynolds American Inc.
(RAI), owned by BAT. KBP continues to house its large, multilevel indoor
plant-growth space, as well as its research and production laboratories, clean
rooms and manufacturing operations in Owensboro.
KBP develops and executes processes to transform tobacco plants into “biomanufacturing
factories” that efficiently produce complex proteins they would not otherwise
produce. The company can grow, harvest and process as many as 3 million
protein-producing tobacco plants in a production cycle that typically takes
about six weeks – compared with many months using traditional biomanufacturing
The company uses licensed and proprietary technologies to
temporarily encode tobacco plants with the genetic instructions to produce
specific target proteins. The plants are grown in an automated,
climate-controlled environment that can be adjusted to optimize their
production of a protein of interest.
Forward Looking Statements
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p.l.c. (the Company, and together with its subsidiaries, the “Group”).
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