Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Plant-Based Vaccines: A new Low-cost Starategy for Developing Vaccines?

In a recent article in the Advances in Virus Research, researchers  recently proposed that it is possible to use plants and plant viruses to develop vaccines, citing a number of recent studies that have demonstrated the viability of this approach, including one study in which humans were successfully immunized against hepatitis B by eating transgenic potatoes that carried hepatitis B antigens.

"Foreign gene expression is an efficient mechanism for getting protein vaccines against different human viral and nonviral diseases. Plants make it easy to deal with safe, inexpensive, and provide trouble-free storage."

 The scientists state that plant viral expression vectors have several advantages: plant viruses are particularly attractive for producing oral vaccines because of their ability to infect edible crops. Also, the fact that plant components (fruits, leaves, and roots) can be eaten means that plant-based edible vaccines would provide an easy and inexpensive route of administering antigens. In addition, edible plants can be used as vehicles for delivering vaccines. This could protect these vaccines from degradation by gastric and intestinal fluids, the researchers say because Ag delivery by plant cells protects the Ag during passage through the acid environment of the stomach. And lastly, plant-derived vaccines eliminate the risk of contamination by zoonotic infections, potentially reducing the safety risks that accompany certain currently available vaccines.

Reference: http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/B978012800172100001X

By Kasiemobi Udo-okoye

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