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Grant Awarded for New Technology to Develop Polio Vaccine

Henry Daniell (UCF)

Henry Daniell (UCF)

The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has awarded University of Central Florida in Orlando a grant to develop a tablet-based vaccine for polio using a new technology that promises to make vaccines faster, safer, and less expensive. The $761,302 two-year grant will fund research by UCF biotechnology professor Henry Daniell (pictured left).

Most vaccines are made with an expensive fermentation process using killed or deactivated forms of bacteria or viruses.  These traditional vaccines require refrigeration and do not last long on the shelf, forcing continual production. Vaccine injections require professional clinicians and sterile needles to be delivered.

Daniell is developing a new method of creating vaccines using genetically engineered tobacco and lettuce plants. Daniell’s techniques result in vaccines delivered in capsule form and are less expensive because fermentation and refrigeration are not required. This process also increases the vaccine’s shelf life.

The tablets made in Daniell’s process — once ingested — activate the immune system in the gut, which is more robust than the blood’s immune system. Moreover, the tablets contain proteins, not dead or deactivated viruses or bacteria, thus reducing the risk of a disease-causing reaction.

Daniel has been developing this technology since 2000 and applied it diseases such as malaria, cholera, and dengue, and biothreat agents such as anthrax and plague.

Read more: Gates Grants Fund Malaria Modeling Device, Culture System

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