Inspired by issues of healthcare inequity and global human rights, Henry Daniell has developed and advanced a novel approach to orally delivering affordable biopharmaceuticals, eliminating expensive injections and refrigeration. He has developed drugs to treat dental caries, diabetes, hemophilia, pulmonary hypertension, diabetic retinopathy, and Alzheimer’s disease, as well as oral vaccines for cholera, tuberculosis, malaria, polio, and plague. Daniell is a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science and the 14th foreign member of Italy’s 240-year-old National Academy of Science. He has been honored for his groundbreaking work by organizations including the American Diabetes Association, the American Heart Association, and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, and is the recipient of the Bayer Healthcare Global Award.
The high cost of current vaccines and biopharmaceuticals is largely due to their complex production and delivery methods, including the significant costs of fermentation and purification systems and additional expenses associated with cold storage, transportation and sterile delivery. Therefore, Dr. Daniell pioneered and advanced the concept of expressing foreign genes in chloroplasts with major emphasis on vaccines and biopharmaceuticals. In addition to high levels of expression, protection of therapeutic proteins in the stomach by bio-encapsulation within plant cells and their release in the gut for presentation to the mucosal immune system or circulatory system, facilitate oral delivery of vaccines or auto-antigens. Oral delivery of bio-encapsulated vaccine antigens in high doses along with prime boost confers both mucosal and systemic immunity and greater protection against pathogens than delivery by injections alone.
In collaboration with his former student Roland Herzog, Daniell lab demonstrated that oral delivery of coagulation factor IX prevented the devastating inhibitor antibody response and pathogenic antibody formation that predisposes to life-threatening anaphylactic reactions to the therapeutic protein. Daniell lab has also demonstrated that oral delivery of proinsulin (without any priming) expressed in chloroplasts delayed the onset of type 1 diabetes in non-obese diabetic mice. Oral delivery of exendin-4 expressed in plant cells regulated blood glucose levels similar to injections by stimulating insulin secretion and a 5,000 fold excess dose didn’t cause hypoglycemia because insulinotropism of exendin-4 is glucose dependent. Some of his ongoing projects include the development of oral vaccines against infectious diseases (polio, tuberculosis, malaria, cholera, anthrax, plague, etc.) and oral tolerance against autoimmune disorders (type 1 diabetes, Pompe’s disease, multiple sclerosis etc). His lab also uses therapeutic protein delivery to degrade plaques in advanced Alzheimer’s brains or regulate blood sugar levels in type 2 diabetes.
These investigations have resulted in >200 publications (several featured on covers of high impact journals), 50 awarded and >150 published global patents. Dr. Daniell’s research is currently supported by several NIH grants and funding from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Bayer, Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation, Department of Energy and USDA.