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Protein Expr Purif. 2011 Sep;79(1):35-43. doi: 10.1016/j.pep.2011.03.007. Epub 2011 Mar 21.

Insect larvae biofactories as a platform for influenza vaccine production.

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Department of Biotechnology, Instituto Nacional de Investigación y Tecnología Agraria y Alimentaria (INIA), Madrid, Spain.


Increased production capacity is one of the most important priorities for seasonal and pandemic influenza vaccines. In the present study, we used a baculovirus-insect larvae system (considered small, living biofactories) to improve the production of recombinant influenza virus H1N1 hemagglutinin (HA). Insect larvae produced four-fold more HA protein than insect cells per biomass unit (1 g of fresh larvae weight). A single infected Trichoplusia ni larva produced up to 113 μg of soluble and easily purified recombinant HA, an amount similar to that produced by 1.2×10(8) Sf21 insect cells infected by the same baculovirus. The use of the KDEL endoplasmic reticulum retention signal fused to the HA protein further increased recombinant protein production. Larvae-derived HA was immunogenically functional in vaccinated mice, inducing the generation of hemagglutination inhibition antibodies and a protective immune response against a lethal challenge with a highly virulent virus. The productivity, scalability and cost efficiency of small, living biofactories based on insect larvae suggest a broad-based strategy for the production of recombinant subunit vaccines against seasonal or pandemic influenza as an alternative to fermentation technologies.

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