Plant-made vaccines against West Nile virus are potent, safe, and economically feasible

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

24 Scopus citations


The threat of West Nile virus (WNV) epidemics with increasingly severe neuroinvasive infections demands the development and licensing of effective vaccines. To date, vaccine candidates based on inactivated, live-attenuated, or chimeric virus, and viral DNA and WNV protein subunits have been developed. Some have been approved for veterinary use or are under clinical investigation, yet no vaccine has been licensed for human use. Reaching the milestone of a commercialized human vaccine, however, may largely depend on the economics of vaccine production. Analysis suggests that currently only novel low-cost production technologies would allow vaccination to outcompete the cost of surveillance and clinical treatment. Here, we review progress using plants to address the economic challenges of WNV vaccine production. The advantages of plants as hosts for vaccine production in cost, speed and scalability, especially those of viral vector-based transient expression systems, are discussed. The progress in developing WNV subunit vaccines in plants is reviewed within the context of their expression, characterization, downstream processing, and immunogenicity in animal models. The development of vaccines based on enveloped and non-enveloped virus-like particles is also discussed. These advancements suggest that plants may provide a production platform that offers potent, safe and affordable human vaccines against WNV.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)671-680
Number of pages10
JournalBiotechnology Journal
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 1 2015


  • Nicotiana benthamiana
  • Plant biotechnology
  • Plant-made vaccines
  • Vaccine
  • West Nile virus (WNV)

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Applied Microbiology and Biotechnology
  • Molecular Medicine


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