3M adjuvant boosts immune response to plant-based COVID-19 vaccine in Thailand clinical trials
Sep 29, 2022

Baiya Phytopharm, a clinical-stage biopharmaceutical company in Thailand, is using 3M Health Care’s 3M-052 adjuvant in phase 1 clinical trials for a COVID-19 vaccine that uses plants to make the vaccine.  

This first-in-human clinical trial of Baiya’s SARS-CoV-2 Vax 2 began in March 2022 and enrolled healthy adults aged 18 to 64 years to receive the vaccine via two injections given 21 days apart. Preliminary results show the vaccine is safe for healthy adults with the potential to induce higher immune responses than the vaccine alone.  

The role of adjuvants 

Adjuvants are commonly used in different types of vaccines to help boost the immune response.  

Baiya’s vaccine is adjuvanted with 3M-052 complexed with Alum, developed by 3M and formulated by the Access to Advanced Health Institute (AAHI). Alum is used as an adjuvant in many approved vaccines.  

Pharmaceutical companies around the world are using 3M-052 along with a number of their vaccines in development. Large pharmaceutical companies usually have their own adjuvant formulation capabilities in-house, but smaller ones often turn to AAHI for formulation development support. 3M has collaborated with AAHI since 2007 on numerous vaccine projects.  

Plant-based vaccine technology 

Baiya is using Nicotiana benthamiana plants, a relative of tobacco that’s native to Australia, to produce the SARS-CoV-2 proteins for its vaccine. Protein-based vaccines are a proven technology that has been used for decades and often require adjuvants to enhance efficacy.  

Baiya’s vaccine is one of two plant-based COVID-19 vaccines currently in clinical trials globally. The other vaccine, developed and being tested in Canada, uses the same plant Baiya is using, but a slightly different vaccine design. 

Vaccines using plant-based protein expression is a newer, emerging approach. Typically, this process uses chicken eggs or other recombinant protein technologies to make the protein-based vaccine. Protein-based vaccines including plant-based vaccines can be relatively inexpensive to manufacture, quickly produced and easily stored – usually requiring standard refrigeration or potentially room temperature storage – which can make them an ideal option for emerging countries. If approved, Baiya’s vaccine will likely be used in Thailand and areas of southeast Asia.   

3M-052 seen elsewhere 

3M Health Care has also been collaborating with academic researchers on COVID-19 vaccine development projects at institutions such as Duke, Baylor, Emory and University of North Carolina – Chapel Hill. These partnerships help to demonstrate the versatility of 3M-052 and its compatibility with different types of vaccines.   

3M-052 is also being used in other vaccines and pharmaceutical products in development for other health issues including HIV, influenza, malaria, hookworm and cancer.

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