Professor Ed Rybicki

URC Biopharming Research Unit

Professor Ed Rybicki PhD FRSSAf MASSAf Fellow of UCT

Director URC Biopharming Research Unit, Professor in Microbiology, Molecular and Cell Biology Department, Faculty of Science, & Member, Institute of Infectious Disease and Molecular Medicine (IDM), University of Cape Town; Academic Liaison, Research Portal Project.

Ed Rybicki’s main research interests are presently in the area of vaccine biotechnology, and in developing mainly plant expression systems as platforms for the production of a wider range of proteins. His expertise includes vaccine and viral biotechnology. Novel human papillomavirus and rotavirus and human pandemic and avian influenza virus vaccine candidates have been made in plants via transient expression; the group is further investigating the potential of plants to make Rift Valley and Crimean-Congo haemorrhagic fever virus and bluetongue virus vaccines and reagents; diversity studies and vaccine development for beak and feather disease virus of parrots, and making molecular diagnostics.

The Biopharming Research Unit (BRU) is based in the Department of Molecular and Cell Biology. The BRU has as its central mission the expression of pharmaceutically relevant recombinant proteins in plants and insect cells. Members of the Unit are inventors on possibly the largest portfolio of patents at UCT, and the largest molecular biotechnology portfolio in South Africa. Principal projects at present are the production of novel next-generation human papillomavirus vaccines and candidate vaccines against bluetongue virus of ruminants and African horsesickness virus.

Ed has authored or co-authored over 120 articles and 19 reviews in peer-reviewed journals and about 20 book chapters, as well as a number of popular or opinion articles and conference report-backs in journals. A comprehensive and up-to-date list is available via Google Scholar Citations 

Selected publications:

Regnard GL, Halley-Stott RP, Tanzer FL, Hitzeroth, II, Rybicki EP: High level protein expression in plants through the use of a novel autonomously replicating geminivirus shuttle vector. Plant biotechnology journal 2010, 8(1):38-46.

Mortimer E, Maclean JM, Mbewana S, Buys A, Williamson AL, Hitzeroth, II, Rybicki EP: Setting up a platform for plant-based influenza virus vaccine production in South Africa. BMC biotechnology 2012, 12:14.

Pineo CB, Hitzeroth, II, Rybicki EP: Immunogenic assessment of plant-produced human papillomavirus type 16 L1/L2 chimaeras. Plant biotechnology journal 2013, 11(8):964-975.

Thuenemann EC, Meyers AE, Verwey J, Rybicki EP, Lomonossoff GP: A method for rapid production of heteromultimeric protein complexes in plants: assembly of protective bluetongue virus-like particles. Plant biotechnology journal 2013, 11(7): 839-846.

Mbewana S, E Mortimer, F Pêra, II Hitzeroth, E Rybicki: Production of H5N1 influenza virus matrix protein 2 ectodomain protein bodies in tobacco plants and in insect cells as a candidate universal influenza vaccine. Frontiers in Bioengineering and Biotechnology 2015, 3:197

Pêra, Francisco FPG; David LR Mutepfa, Ayesha M Khan, Johann H Els, Sandiswa Mbewana, Alberdina AA van Dijk, Edward P Rybicki, Inga I Hitzeroth: Engineering and expression of a human rotavirus candidate vaccine in Nicotiana benthamiana. Virology Journal 12:205


Contact details:

Room 303a
Dept. Molecular and Cell Biology
University of Cape Town Upper Campus
PB Rondebosch 7701
South Africa

Tel: 27 (0)21 650 3265
Fax: 27 (0)21 650 2646

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