Owensboro’s Kentucky BioProcessing Fights to Restrain Coronavirus

The Coronavirus that has recently devastated China and according to CBS news, has now swept across 75 countries and 17 states thus far, is raising alarm. There have been roughly 94,000 reported cases of the Coronavirus worldwide with upwards of 3,200 deaths globally. In the U.S., 100 cases of the virus have been reported, with a total of 11 deaths. This virus is raising serious concerns regarding the community’s safety and health. The COVID-19 virus has raised not only many concerns, but many questions regarding whether or not treatment options are being developed and how. 

Owensboro’s Kentucky BioProcessing, a biopharmaceutical company that was established in 2006, is in the premature stages of perfecting a vaccine candidate to restrain the Coronavirus pandemic that’s sweeping the globe. 

Kentucky BioProcessing (KBP) is known for the treatment drug that was credited for potentially saving the lives of two American missionaries who were infected with the deadly Ebola virus in 2014.  

KBP has informed the Trump administration’s health department about the possibility of using tobacco plants to aid the government in developing a vaccine for COVID-19, as it did in 2014 with the case of the two American missionaries. 

Hugh Haydon, KBP’s chief executive officer, said the Chinese authority released the genetic sequence that was associated with the Coronavirus in late January 2020. 

Haydon explained that until KBP received the sequence and knew what the genetic code in the virus was, there just wasn’t much they or anybody else could do. “Within a day or two of that sequence being available we had taken it, reviewed it, isolated a couple of different vaccines antigen construct that we believed might be able to neutralize the virus,” Haydon said. 

Since retrieval of this information, KBP has been injecting tobacco plants with a genetically modified coronavirus to see if it can produce antibodies for a possible vaccine. Since COVID-19 is in the same family of coronavirus pathogens as SARS and MERS, scientists may actually have a blueprint to work with. 

“One of the challenges with this virus as is typically true with the newly emerging pathogen is that the test method has to be developed in tandem with the vaccine product,” Haydon said. “So, scientists are learning more and more about the virus and as that knowledge increases, your ability to test a particular vaccine against the virus also increases.” 

This means KBP’s work is in the early stages and the outbreak could subside before a cure is perfected. 

“The route of administration is something that we would figure out through the development process,” Haydon said. “Our operating theory is, yes, it would be injected” since this is the quickest path.