A UCF biomedical researcher has developed what promises to be the first low-cost dual vaccine against malaria and cholera.
There is no FDA approved vaccine to prevent malaria, a mosquito-borne illness that kills more than 1 million people annually. Only one vaccine exists to fight cholera, a diarrheal illness that is common in developing countries and can be fatal. The lone vaccine is too expensive to prevent outbreaks in developing countries after floods, and children lose immunity within three years of getting the current vaccine.
Daniell’s team genetically engineered tobacco and lettuce plants to produce the vaccine. Researchers gave mice freeze-dried plant cells (orally or by injection) containing the vaccine. They then challenged the mice with either the cholera toxin or malarial parasite. The malaria parasite studies were completed in fellow UCF professor Debopam Chakrabarti’s lab.
Untreated rodents contracted diseases quickly, but the mice who received the plant-grown vaccines showed long-lasting immunity for more than 300 days (equivalent to 50 human years).
“I’m very encouraged because our technique works well and provides an affordable way to get vaccines to people who need them most and can least afford them,” said lead scientist Henry Daniell.
“We’re talking about producing mass quantities for pennies on the dollar,” he said. “And distribution to mass populations would be easy because it could be made into a simple pill, like a vitamin, which many people routinely take now. There is no need for expensive purification, cold storage, transportation or sterile delivery via injections.”
Clinical trials are needed, and Daniell is hopeful that the results with mice will translate to humans. It could be yet another example of plants delivering life-saving medicines.
Results from the National Institutes of Health-funded research are published in this month’s Plant Biotechnology, the top-ranked journal in the field.
To continue reading visit Vaccine Could Be Lethal Weapon Against Malaria, Cholera by Zenaida Gonzalez Kotala.