Bioprocessing of plant-derived virus-like particles of Norwalk virus capsid protein under current Good Manufacture Practice regulations

Huafang Lai, Qiang Chen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

91 Scopus citations


Despite the success in expressing a variety of subunit vaccine proteins in plants and the recent stride in improving vaccine accumulation levels by transient expression systems, there is still no plant-derived vaccine that has been licensed for human use. The lack of commercial success of plant-made vaccines lies in several technical and regulatory barriers that remain to be overcome. These challenges include the lack of scalable downstream processing procedures, the uncertainty of regulatory compliance of production processes, and the lack of demonstration of plant-derived products that meet the required standards of regulatory agencies in identity, purity, potency and safety. In this study, we addressed these remaining challenges and successfully demonstrate the ability of using plants to produce a pharmaceutical grade Norwalk virus (NV) vaccine under current Good Manufacture Practice (cGMP) guidelines at multiple gram scales. Our results demonstrate that an efficient and scalable extraction and purification scheme can be established for processing virus-like particles (VLPs) of NV capsid protein (NVCP). We successfully operated the upstream and downstream NVCP production processes under cGMP regulations. Furthermore, plant-derived NVCP VLP demonstrates the identity, purity, potency and safety that meet the preset release specifications. This material is being tested in a Phase I human clinical trial. This research provides the first report of producing a plant-derived vaccine at scale under cGMP regulations in an academic setting and an important step for plant-produced vaccines to become a commercial reality.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)573-584
Number of pages12
JournalPlant Cell Reports
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 2012


  • Bioprocessing
  • Large-scale
  • Plant-derived vaccines
  • Purification
  • VLP
  • cGMP

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Agronomy and Crop Science
  • Plant Science


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