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Plant Based Vaccines

Updated on October 17, 2014
The first vaccination against smallpox was performed by Edward Jenner,
The first vaccination against smallpox was performed by Edward Jenner, | Source

We all take vaccine from our childhood days. A vaccine is any preparation intended to produce immunity to a disease by stimulating the production of antibodies (WHO). Vaccines include suspensions of killed or attenuated microorganisms, or products or derivatives of microorganisms. The most common method of administering vaccines is by injection, but some are given orally or as nasal spray (Vaccination).

The use of live vaccinia virus as a vaccine for smallpox dates back to 1796, When Edward Jenner first revealed that this virus, harmless to humans, could stimulate immunity against the smallpox virus. This discovery wiped out one of the most dreadful disease "smallpox" in 1980.

Success story of vaccines ......

• Eradication of polio throughout the world by year 2003 (WHO)

• Significant reduction of incidence of diseases like : Diphtheria, Pertussis (whooping cough) &Tetanus(DPT Vaccine), Hepatitis B,Tuberculosis, Measles, Mumps, Rubella etc

Conventional vaccines consists of attenuated or inactivated pathogens.Recombinant vaccines(Hepatitis B vaccine obtained by using recombinant DNA technique) are produced nowadays, through bacterial fermentation or in animal cell culture, which makes their cost high. In developing countries, transport and storage of vaccines cause many problems. Therefore, plants are being developed as alternative choice for vaccine production and storage.

The story of vaccination begins in 1796, when Edward Jenner found out vaccine for smallpox. The milestone discovery leads to the prevention of number of dreadful diseases. Now is era of recombinant vaccine. The problems associated with recombinant vaccine production are high production cost and spoilage during storage and transport. Therefore plant based vaccines are another choice.

Antigens of several pathogens ,e.g., enteric pathogens ,produce immunogeneic response when delivered orally; such antigens are good candidate for edible vaccines.Researchers hope to produce less expensive and easily available edible vaccines by careful genetic engineering of certain fruits and vegetables. The idea behind the edible vaccines is that people get vaccinated through their diet.

Dr. Charles Arntzen displays some of his vaccine-carrying tomatoes
Dr. Charles Arntzen displays some of his vaccine-carrying tomatoes | Source

Many researcher groups have been in the run to make plant based vaccines. Dr. Charles Arntzen (Arizona State University) and his team has been recognized as a pioneer in the development of plant-based vaccines for human disease prevention.

Plants under investigation include Banana, Tomato, Potato, Lettuce, Wheat, Rice, Corn, Spinach, Soybean and Legumes.

Hopefully, you can take your vaccination by eating a banana or tomato.


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    • Chemistry Book profile image

      Chemistry Book 6 years ago

      I think getting vaccinated through diet is such an interesting concept. Also, the need for new vaccines is urgent. Especially as we are faced with new debilitating diseases. Very useful HUb!

    • deenahere profile image

      Deena 6 years ago from India

      Thank you very much for your interest in this topic.

    • RTalloni profile image

      RTalloni 6 years ago from the short journey

      Thanks for sharing this info. I do want to learn more about plant based vaccines and what developing them means for the future.

    • profile image

      ChuckG 6 years ago

      Thanks for sharing. Didn't know plants were considered to use as vaccines. Interesting indeed.

    • Dee aka Nonna profile image

      Dee aka Nonna 6 years ago

      In the US many young mothers are choosing not to have their children vaccinated for various childhood diseases. I don't quite know how to feel about that. I learned a great deal here. Thank you for sharing.