[Global Network Reporter Wang Huan] According to "Nikkei" reported on August 10, Japan's Astellas Pharma is developing an oral vaccine made from rice. The vaccine can prevent cholera diarrhea, and has entered the initial clinical trial stage. The company's chief financial officer, Mu Tian Mu Shi, said that because the vaccine maintains the characteristics of rice that can be stored at room temperature, it is expected to "live in Africa and Southeast Asia where refrigerating equipment has not yet been popularized."
Entering the clinical trial phase is the oral vaccine "MucoRice" made from rice. Researchers use genetic recombination technology to turn common proteins contained in rice into antigenic proteins. Astellas Pharmaceuticals has applied technology from Professor Hiro Kiyano and others at the Institute of Medical Sciences of the University of Tokyo and is moving towards practicality.
"It's very interesting for rice to become a vaccine." In 2015, at a certain society, Takanori Hanadura, director of Astellas Pharmaceutical Research Division, which was a business planning department, was attracted by Professor Kiyano. So Astellas immediately contacted Dongda and finally realized joint development.
MucoRice vaccine acts on immune cells through the intestinal mucosa, improving immunity and preventing diseases.
The proteins that make up Vibrio cholerae include toxic "CTA" and non-toxic "CTB". Researchers use genetic recombination technology to replace rice proteins with non-toxic CTB. The rice is then cultivated, ground and processed to become a vaccine.
Cholera is common in Southeast Asia, India, and Africa. Rice was selected because it can be transported at room temperature regardless of whether it is a raw material or a pharmaceutical product. Astellas did not disclose details, but discussed the shape of vaccines in general medicines such as powders, tablets or capsules.
The director of the flower museum said, "Emerging markets without electricity and refrigeration equipment can also be used." In addition, because the MucoRice vaccine can be taken orally, it is convenient for children to take, and does not require the use of a syringe, and does not generate medical waste.
Although oral cholera vaccines such as "Dukoral" provided by French vaccine company Valneva currently exist, they are often stored refrigerated for storage and transportation.
Astellas first strives to use this vaccine to prevent diarrhea caused by Vibrio cholerae, and will cooperate with Dongda University to expand the scope of the vaccine to Norovirus.
However, the practical application of vaccines also has problems. "The key issue is how to stably cultivate genetically recombined rice," said Mr. Nishitoshi Nishi, chief of Astellas Pharmaceuticals' business development department. In order to establish a mass production system and promote the exploration of rice production conditions and formulation, Astellas Pharmaceuticals signed a joint research contract with Asahi Kogyo Co., Ltd. and Chiba University, which are experienced in plant factories and rice cultivation research in 2017.
Under normal circumstances, the development of pharmaceuticals starts from the start of clinical treatment, which takes at least about 4 years. However, since the MucoRice vaccine is a non-existent drug, when it will be put into practical use is full of unknowns.
Astellas Pharmaceuticals specializes in the production of treatments for urinary cancer and overactive bladder, but has recently expanded the scope of pharmaceutical technology. For example, in terms of cancer immune drugs, in order to have a different effect from existing drugs, Astellas Pharmaceuticals and Tottori University signed a global licensing contract in March around the development and commercialization of oncolytic viruses that enter cells and destroy tumors. . After 2019, Astellas Pharma's patents for major drugs such as Vesicare, an overactive bladder treatment drug, will expire, so we plan to expand our business by exploring new technologies.