First plant-based vaccine for COVID-19 trialled at King’s

09 December 2021 - World’s first plant-based vaccine for COVID-19 trialled at King’s

James Galloway

A global clinical trial, which involved a team of King’s researchers led by Dr James Galloway, has uncovered a plant-based vaccine that is effective against all variants of COVID-19 - albeit the Omicron variant, which had not been discovered during the study.

The plant-based vaccine, developed by the Canadian biopharmaceutical company Medicago, has been found to be particularly effective against the Delta variant after being administered to over 24,000 adults across 6 countries - including the UK. Medicago – who led the trial earlier this year – has now reported that the data collected reveals that the vaccine is 75.3% effective against the Delta variant.

Medicago has been developing its plant-based technology for the past 20 years, using unique technology to produce Virus-Like Particles (VLP) for its protein vaccines. VLPs are designed to mimic the structure of real viruses, allowing them to be easily recognized by the immune system.

Researchers around the world - including Dr Galloway’s team at King’s - recruited participants who had not yet been vaccinated. The participants who took part in the study described having only mild to moderate symptoms, including fever, for one to three days after the vaccine and no adverse reactions were reported.

Dr James Galloway, Consultant Rheumatologist at King’s College Hospital, says: “This is an innovative study which demonstrates the power of plant-based technology and how it can be used to protect and improve people’s lives.

“Although we have a number of effective vaccines licensed for use in the UK, it’s important that we continue to develop and test new therapeutics that will be sustainable for the future – particularly as we continue to live with Covid-19.”

Biopharmaceutical company Medicago is now seeking regulatory approval in Canada. If approved, the Medicago’s plant vaccine will be the first plant-based vaccine for COVID-19 and is another therapeutic to add the world’s armoury against COVID-19.