20 June 2024
Soapbark vaccine sustainability secured

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Soapbark vaccine sustainability breakthrough: A valuable molecule sourced from the soapbark tree and used as a key ingredient in vaccines has been replicated in an alternative plant host for the first time, opening unprecedented opportunities for the vaccine industry. This breakthrough offers a sustainable and cost-effective solution for vaccine production, addressing the challenges of supply chain disruptions and ensuring a reliable supply of vaccines for global immunization programs.

Soapbark Vaccine Sustainability: Discovery of a Sustainable Source for Vaccine Production



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Published on: October 8, 2021 Description: The quillay tree, a rare evergreen native to central Chile, has long been used by indigenous people to make soap and medicine.
Tree of life: The rare Chilean tree behind world's most important vaccines • FRANCE 24 English
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Introduction:

Vaccines have revolutionized healthcare by preventing deadly diseases and improving global health. However, the production of some vaccines relies on molecules sourced from natural resources, raising concerns about sustainability. A recent breakthrough in replicating a key molecule from the soapbark tree in an alternative plant host offers a promising solution to address these concerns and ensure a sustainable supply for vaccine production.

Soapbark Vaccine Sustainability: The Soapbark Tree and QS-21

The soapbark tree (Quillaja saponaria) is native to Chile and Peru. Its bark contains a valuable molecule called QS-21, which plays a crucial role as an adjuvant in vaccines. Adjuvants are substances that enhance the immune response to vaccines, making them more effective. QS-21 is particularly potent and has been used in vaccines against shingles, malaria, and others under development.

Soapbark Vaccine Sustainability: Challenges of Traditional Production

Traditionally, QS-21 is extracted directly from the bark of the soapbark tree. This method raises environmental concerns as it relies on harvesting from wild trees, potentially leading to deforestation and habitat loss. Additionally, the supply of QS-21 is limited by the availability of soapbark trees, making it challenging to meet the growing demand for vaccines worldwide.

Soapbark Vaccine Sustainability: Replicating QS-21 in Alternative Hosts

Researchers at the John Innes Centre in the United Kingdom have made a significant breakthrough in replicating QS-21 in an alternative plant host, specifically tobacco plants. Using genetic engineering techniques, they were able to identify and transfer the genes responsible for producing QS-21 from the soapbark tree to tobacco plants. This marks the first time QS-21 has been successfully produced in a heterologous expression system.

Soapbark Vaccine Sustainability: Benefits of Alternative Production

The replication of QS-21 in tobacco plants offers several advantages. First, it eliminates the need to harvest from wild soapbark trees, reducing the environmental impact and promoting sustainability. Second, it provides a more reliable and consistent supply of QS-21, ensuring a steady supply for vaccine production. Third, it opens up the possibility of modifying and improving the molecule to enhance its effectiveness and reduce potential side effects.

Conclusion:

The replication of QS-21 in an alternative plant host is a major advancement in vaccine production. It addresses the sustainability concerns associated with traditional extraction methods and ensures a reliable supply of this crucial adjuvant. This breakthrough has the potential to improve the effectiveness and accessibility of vaccines, ultimately benefiting global health..

FAQ’s

What is QS-21, and why is it important?

QS-21 is a molecule derived from the soapbark tree that serves as a potent adjuvant in vaccines. Adjuvants enhance the immune response to vaccines, making them more effective.

Why is traditional QS-21 production unsustainable?

Traditional QS-21 production involves harvesting from wild soapbark trees, leading to environmental concerns such as deforestation and habitat loss. The limited availability of soapbark trees also poses challenges in meeting the growing demand for vaccines worldwide.

How have researchers replicated QS-21 in an alternative host?

Researchers at the John Innes Centre in the United Kingdom have successfully replicated QS-21 in tobacco plants using genetic engineering techniques. They identified and transferred the genes responsible for producing QS-21 from the soapbark tree to tobacco plants, marking the first time QS-21 has been produced in a heterologous expression system.

What are the benefits of replicating QS-21 in an alternative host?

Replicating QS-21 in tobacco plants offers several advantages: it eliminates the need for harvesting from wild soapbark trees, reducing environmental impact and promoting sustainability. It ensures a more reliable and consistent supply of QS-21, benefiting vaccine production. Additionally, it opens up opportunities for modifying and improving the molecule to enhance its effectiveness and reduce potential side effects.

How does this breakthrough contribute to global health?

The replication of QS-21 in an alternative plant host addresses the sustainability concerns associated with traditional extraction methods and ensures a reliable supply of this crucial adjuvant. This breakthrough has the potential to improve the effectiveness and accessibility of vaccines, ultimately benefiting global health.

Links to additional Resources:

1. www.sciencedaily.com 2. www.nature.com 3. www.who.int

Related Wikipedia Articles

Topics: Soapbark tree, QS-21 molecule, Vaccine production

Quillaja saponaria
Quillaja saponaria, the soap bark tree or soapbark, is an evergreen tree in the family Quillajaceae, native to warm temperate central Chile. In Chile it occurs from 32 to 40° South Latitude approximately and at up to 2000 m (6500 ft) above sea level. It can grow to 15–20 m...
Read more: Quillaja saponaria

QS-21
QS-21 is a purified plant extract used as a vaccine adjuvant. It is derived from the soap bark tree (Quillaja saponaria), which is native to the countries of Chile, Peru, and Bolivia. The crude drug (Quillajae cortex) is imported from Peru and Chile.The extract contains water-soluble triterpene glycosides, which are...
Read more: QS-21

Vaccine
A vaccine is a biological preparation that provides active acquired immunity to a particular infectious or malignant disease. The safety and effectiveness of vaccines has been widely studied and verified. A vaccine typically contains an agent that resembles a disease-causing microorganism and is often made from weakened or killed forms...
Read more: Vaccine

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