Researchers at the University of California-Riverside (UCR) are working on a way to grow edible plants that carry the same medication as an mRNA vaccine.
The Covid-19 vaccine is one of many jabs that use messenger (mRNA) technology to fight against viruses. They are supposed to teach immune system cells to recognise and attack a specific infectious disease. Due to their fragility, mRNA vaccines must be kept in cold storage until use, therefore, the UC-Riverside team are looking into other options that could allow vaccines that can be stored at room temperature. If successful in their work, the public could begin eating plant-based mRNA vaccines in the future.
The team has received a $500,000 grant from the National Science Foundation and are looking to accomplish three objectives. Firstly, the team will try to successfully deliver DNA containing mRNA vaccines into plant cells, where they can replicate, Secondly, the researchers want to demonstrate that plants can actually produce enough mRNA to replace a traditional injection. Finally, the team will need to figure out the correct dosage that people will need to eat to properly replace vaccinations.
Juan Pablo Giraldo, an associated professor in UCR’s Department of Botany and Plant Sciences said in a university press release: “Ideally, a single plant would produce enough mRNA to vaccinate a single person.”
“We are testing this approach with spinach and lettuce and have long-term goals of people growing it in their own gardens. Farmers could also eventually grow entire fields of it.”
Giraldo and his team said that the key to making edible vaccines are chloroplasts. These are small organs in plant cells that convert sunlight into energy that the plant can use.
“They’re tiny, solar-powered factories that produce sugar and other molecules which allow the plant to grow,” Giraldo said. “They’re also an untapped source for making desirable molecules.”
Previous research has shown that it’s possible for chloroplasts to express genes that aren’t naturally part of the plant. The team of scientists achieved this by sending genetic material inside of a protective casing into plant cells.
In the new study, Giraldo team with UC-San Diego’s Professor Nicole Steinmetz to use nanotechnology to deliver more genetic material into chloroplasts.
Steinmetz said: “Our idea is to repurpose naturally occurring nanoparticles, namely plant viruses, for gene delivery to plants.
“Some engineering goes into this to make the nanoparticles go to the chloroplasts and also to render them non-infectious toward the plants.”
“One of the reasons I started working in nanotechnology was so I could apply it to plants and create new technology solutions. Not just for food, but for high-value products as well, like pharmaceuticals,” Giraldo added.
What is disturbing about the thought of vaccinated plants is, if successfully created, they could be introduced into the food supply without the knowledge of the public. This only provides big pharma and friends with an opportunity to covertly vaccinate and medicate the global population without any consent.
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