Toronto-If you have the option, would you like to vaccinate by shooting your arm or eating a glass of vegetables?
Scientists at the University of California, Riverside (UCR) are currently investigating whether edible plants such as lettuce and spinach can be turned into mRNA vaccines that people can grow on their own.
This research project has three goals. To show that DNA containing the mRNA vaccine can be successfully integrated into plant cells. To demonstrate that plants can replicate enough mRNA to rival current injection methods. Then determine the correct dose.
“Ideally, a single plant would produce enough mRNA to vaccinate one person,” said Juan Pablo, Principal Investigator and Associate Professor of Botany and Plant Science at UCR. Girard said. news release..
“We are testing this approach with spinach and lettuce, and people have the long-term goal of growing it in their own garden,” he added. “Farmers also have the potential to eventually grow the entire sector.”
According to Girard, the key to introducing the mRNA vaccine into plants is the chloroplast, a small organ of plant cells involved in photosynthesis.
“They are small solar power plants that produce sugar and other molecules that enable plant growth,” says Giraldo. “They are also undeveloped sources for making the desired molecules.”
Previous laboratory studies by Giraldo have shown that chloroplasts can naturally express genes that are not part of the plant. This was achieved by sending foreign genetic material in a protective casing to plant cells.
Similar studies on the edible COVID-19 vaccine are being conducted near home.
A team of scientists led by Allyson MacLean, an assistant professor of biology at the University of Ottawa, has been working on alternatives to immunization against viruses for over a year.
Their method involves expressing the viral antigen in edible plants such as lettuce and spinach, and people eating it. Vaccine testing has already begun as part of a partnership with Ottawa Hospital.
The mRNA technology used in some traditional COVID-19 vaccines works by using mRNA to provide human cells with genetic instructions to make antibodies against a particular disease. However, one of the challenges of mRNA vaccines is that they need to be kept cold to maintain stability during transport and storage.
A successful UCR research project will not only enable edible mRNA vaccines, but will also produce mRNA vaccines that can be stored at room temperature.
“I’m very excited about all of this research,” said Giraldo. “I think it can have a big impact on people’s lives.”
This research project is supported by a US $ 500,000 grant from the National Science Foundation.
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