According to what was published by the University of California, researchers are currently working on developing a technique to place the vaccine in plant cells, particularly lettuce and spinach.
Scientists hope to turn home gardens into small farms for vaccines after receiving a $ 500,000 grant for the project from the National Science Foundation.
The vaccine being prepared for this purpose is the RNA vaccine (mRNA), which is a new type of vaccine that has been studied for decades and in light of the Corona pandemic, both Pfizer-Bioentek and Moderna used RNA sent to the vaccines they produced to prevent coronary. COVID-19.
Conventional vaccines work by placing a pathogen (a virus or microbe) in the human body, which stimulates your immune system to produce antibodies.
In contrast, the messenger RNA vaccine works in a different way. It uses a genetically modified form of messenger RNA (mRNA) to give your cells instructions on how to make a protein that stimulates the body to produce antibodies and fight the virus. DNA never enters the nucleus of cells.
Vaccines and plants
“We are testing this approach with spinach and lettuce and have long-term goals for people who grow it in their gardens and eventually farmers can grow entire areas of it,” says Juan Pablo Giraldo, an associate professor at the University. of California and research leader.
“The key to doing this is chloroplasts – small organs in plant cells that convert sunlight into energy that plants can use,” he added in a university press release. unused to synthesize the desired particles.
In the past, Giraldo has shown that chloroplasts can express genes that are not normal parts of a plant by sending foreign genetic material into plant cells within a protective sheath.
For this project, Giraldo teamed up with Nicole Steinmetz, a professor of nanoengineering at the University of California, San Diego, to take advantage of the nanotechnologies her team designed to deliver genetic material to chloroplasts.
Chloroplasts express a green fluorescent protein; The DNA encoding the protein is dispersed from the target nanomaterials without mechanical assistance, applying a drop of nanoformula to the leaf surface.
In parallel with this project, which uses vaccine delivery technology for plant cells, scientists are working on adopting this technology to deliver nitrogen to plants, rather than placing it in the ground, to avoid groundwater contamination, as half of the nitrogen penetrates into. him from the ground.
In the new technology, nitrogen enters chloroplasts through the leaves and the required amount is controlled, which is a more efficient approach and can help farmers and improve the environment, and for this purpose researchers were allocated $ 1.6 million, according to the University of California.