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Paper  Potential applications of plant biotechnology against SARS CoV-2


Keyword(s) COVID-19pandemicmolecular farmingtransient expressionvirus-like particles
Author(s) CapellTwymanArmario-najeraMaSchillbergChristou


Severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) is a novel coronavirus responsible for an ongoing human pandemic (COVID-19). There is a massive international effort underway to develop diagnostic reagents, vaccines, and antiviral drugs in a bid to slow down the spread of the disease and save lives. One part of that international effort involves the research community working with plants, bringing researchers from all over the world together with commercial enterprises to achieve the rapid supply of protein antigens and antibodies for diagnostic kits, and scalable production systems for the emergency manufacturing of vaccines and antiviral drugs. Here, we look at some of the ways in which plants can and are being used in the fight against COVID-19. Highlights The current COVID-19 pandemic has created an immediate massive demand for diagnostic reagents based on SARS-CoV-2 RNA/proteins and corresponding antibodies, placing immense strain on the supply and distribution chain. Transient expression in plants could address the shortage by achieving rapid, larger-scale production, complemented by longer-term higher-volume production in transgenic plants.
The same technology used to produce diagnostic reagents could also be used to produce vaccine candidates (SARS-CoV-2 subunits and virus-like particles) as well as therapeutic antibodies and antiviral proteins. It will be necessary to pool the international resources of molecular farming research groups and industry to capitalize on expertise, although distributed production using local infrastructure is the key to reaching all parts of the world.

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Name Stefan Schillberg
Organization Fraunhofer IME
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