Medicinal secrets of the Chilean soapbark tree

QS saponins extracted from the soapbark tree are used as adjuvants in vaccines protecting people against COVID-19, shingles, and malaria, and vaccine manufacturers are actively working to reduce the environmental impact and improve sustainability of sourcing these important resources.

Researchers at the John Innes Centre have taken a major step forward in addressing this problem, by using a combination of genome mining and bioengineering techniques to produce saponin-based vaccine adjuvants in the laboratory without harvesting material directly from trees.

The team have partnered with PBL Technology, who are leading on the commercialisation of the research.

Elucidation of the pathway for biosynthesis of saponin adjuvants from the soapbark tree was published in Science.

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