At Massey University, Bernd Rehm and his team at PolyBatics are using bacteria as factories to produce tiny bioplastic beads which are genetically engineered to display designer molecules on the surface. These molecules are disease-specific antigens so when they are injected into the body they can generate immunity. Some of the vaccines being developed could innoculate against diseases like tuberculosis, pneumonia and meningitis, however clinical trials are required before they can be used in humans.
Bernd Rehm, who is a Principal Investigator of the MacDiarmid Institute of Advanced Materials and Nanotechnology, takes Ruth Beran around the lab in Palmerston North, where she meets Sara Ladd from PolyBatics, who shows her the biofactories where the beads are produced in large quantities.
A microscope image of bacteria containing biobeads.