Spain: Eating tomatoes instead of vaccinating

Research indicates that traditional vaccines can be replaced by "edible vaccines" with molecular pharming technique, a pun combining 'farming' (cultivation and livestock) and ‘pharmacy’ (chemist).

Molecular pharming is not only suitable for "edible vaccines", it can also be used for prevention of diseases reaching humans through animals, such as rats and bats. With molecular pharming, diseases like rabies can be slowed down, and animals can be immunized. 

Edible vaccines are made using transgenic plants, such as tomato. Through certain techniques, an antigenic substance is introduced that kick-starts the immunization of humans or animals that we would like to vaccinate. This technique is already allowed in the prevention of rotavirus, hepatitis B and HIV.

In Spain, researchers from the Instituto de Biología Molecular y Celular Plantas of the CSIC in Valencia, have developed a blue tomato in which the antigenic substances can be introduced and used as edible vaccine. The blue color has been developed in order to avoid the product ending up in the regular food chain.


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