Canadian biopharmaceutical company Medicago is using a plant related to tobacco in order to develop a plant-based coronavirus vaccine, according to NBC affiliate WRAL in a report last week.With more than 100 studies underway across the globe, many pharmaceutical companies are trying to be among the first to develop a coronavirus vaccine. In order to reach large numbers of people and achieve herd immunity, it's clear that more than one vaccination will be needed, and companies are not hesitating to seek new technologies and innovative ideas of developing a vaccine that will be cheap and easily accessible. One of those companies is Canadian biopharmaceutical company Medicago, which has developed vaccines for the swine flu and the seasonal flu in the past. After having been recruited by the US Defense Department to create a vaccine for a pandemic influenza, the company has now shifted its research to coronavirus and is looking for a different path toward a vaccine than most other researchers. According to its website, Medicago "is a leading clinical-stage biopharmaceutical company using a novel plant-based manufacturing and virus-like particle (VLP) technologies to rapidly develop innovative vaccines and protein-based therapeutics for infectious diseases and emerging public health challenges."The company has developed a unique method of creating a vaccine by letting plants do the work. "We're using plants as mini factories," said Natalie Charland, a senior director at Medicago.Essentially, Medicago injects the genetic sequence of the virus into the Nicotiana benthamiana plant, a relative of the tobacco plant. "We don't even see the virus in our labs," Charland noted. "For a week, these plants will make the vaccines. Then, we just harvest the leaves. We digest them to make some sort of green soup."That "soup" is then refined and turned into a vaccine, which has already been proven to produce antibodies in mice. Charland said that "usually, the development of a new vaccine product will take at least 10 years," but that "now, we're trying to do that in months."While AstraZeneca and Moderna have been identified by the World Health Organization (WHO) to be the leading candidates to reaching a vaccine in terms of development, more successful vaccines will surely be needed in order to reach enough people and effectively block the spread of coronavirus. This is where companies like Medicago come in, expanding the diversity of research being done and offering more options that may be needed in the near future.