Friday, February 26, 2010

Vaccines From Tobacco?

The seemingly sudden onset of the highly infectious H1N1 influenza caught the world by surprise. The government and drug companies were scrambling last spring to create vaccines to ward off the virus and control the onset. Unfortunately, the H1N1 virus raged before the vaccine could become widely available and accessible.

However, is it possible that the vaccine could have been harvested in a plant, specifically a tobacco plant, rather than chicken eggs? The Wall Street Journal explains that “plants have certain advantages over animal parts, which may contain pathogens harmful to humans. The tobacco plant is particularly promising: it has been extensively researched, is cheap to grow and can yield large amounts of vaccine quickly—potentially reducing production time to weeks instead of several months.”

While this system is only in its early stages and not quite ready to be used as the sole vehicle for the productions of vaccines yet, but it is an excellent possibility. Clinical trials are planned to begin in 2011.

(link to original article)

Amy Himmelstein
Tobacco Policy and Program Intern
Partnership for Prevention


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