Rice-based vaccine to get expanded applications

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Japan-based pharmaceutical company Astellas and the Institute of Medical Science at the University of Tokyo (Imsut) are expanding the range of diseases that can be covered by their rice-based oral vaccine, MucoRice, the company announced last week.

The announcement followed the signing of a collaborative research agreement between Astellas and Imsut to develop a rice-based oral vaccine for viral gastroenteritis diarrhea, including norovirus infection, Astellas said in a statement.

MucoRice is a rice-based oral vaccine developed by the International Research and Development Center for Mucosal Vaccines at Imsut under the leadership of Professor Hiroshi Kiyono and lead project researcher Yoshikazu Yuki.

“Using rice that is genetically engineered to express the antigen of interest and suppress endogenous rice storage protein production, MucoRice activates the mucosal immune system in the intestine and induces a protective immunity,” explained the pharmaceutical company, which has an office and distribution network in the Philippines.

Since 2016, Imsut and Astellas have been conducting collaborative research on vaccines against cholera and enterotoxigenic Escherichia coli using the MucoRice system.

Under the updated agreement, the scope of the collaborative research project will be expanded to conditions where unmet medical needs remain, such as norovirus.

“Through this collaborative research project, IMSUT and Astellas will promote research on vaccines against infectious diseases and develop the new drug discovery technology platform for other diseases,” the company said.

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