Through gene modification the plants have acquired the capacity to produce a protein that is part of the virus, and the project has taken a giant step forward in that mice that have been fed the plants have reacted and formed antibodies against the protein. The findings are presented in a new academic dissertation at the university.
To produce drugs with the help of plants is a rapidly growing research field that offers new potential to combat diseases. At Örebro University researchers have the goal of developing inexpensive and safe protection against HIV, in the form of plants that contain a vaccine against the virus and can be cultivated all over the world. If they succeed, it will be difficult to exaggerate the significance of this for millions of people around the world, not least in the poorest countries.
"A major problem with the HIV virus is that it mutates rapidly and therefore exists in several different variants. In other words, it's not possible to create an effective vaccine that is based on the entire virus. Moreover, this would be far too risky. Instead, we have selected a protein, p24, that exists in all HIV viruses and looks roughly the same in the various virus lines," says Ingrid Lindh, author of the dissertation.
To get plants to produce the p24 protein, the gene that underlies the process must be a part of their own genetic make-up, but since it's impossible to transfer the gene directly from the virus to the plant, the researchers had to take a detour. This was done by first placing the gene into a bacterium that could then transmit it to the plants. The attempt succeeded; the plants produced p24 and also passed on this ability to their offspring.
In the next phase, mice were fed with the p24 plants, and these trials also proved to be successful. The mice's immune defense reacted just as the researchers had hoped, producing antibodies against the protein. In other words, this functioned as a vaccine. This raises hopes that a similar reaction in humans would make them immune to HIV.
"It is highly probable that the human immune system will respond in the same manner, but this is not to say that this would be sufficient to provide complete protection."
To increase the potency of the vaccine, these scientists are therefore going to add more HIV proteins together with other compounds that reinforce the body's reaction to HIV-specific proteins. In parallel with this, they will work to select a suitable vegetable that is easy to cultivate in different climates and is readily accepted in different cultures. Thus far, thale cress (Arabidopsis thaliana) has been used as an experimental plant, a common wild plant that is related to mustard and cabbage and has the great advantage of being well mapped genetically.
"The carrot is a good candidate for producing an edible vaccine, not least because it can be eaten raw, which reduces the risk of the proteins being destroyed by heating. What's more, it's a biennial, which means that it doesn't go to seed the first year, making it easier to ensure that it doesn't spread its genes to other plants close by," explains Ingrid Lindh.
HIV research at Örebro University has been attracting great international attention. It was recently singled out as one of the 20 most promising projects out of 500 current projects at an HIV/Aids conference in South Africa.For more information contct Ingrid Lindh, +46-70 657 40 75; email@example.com.
Individual Receptors Caught at Work
19.10.2017 | Julius-Maximilians-Universität Würzburg
Rapid environmental change makes species more vulnerable to extinction
19.10.2017 | Universität Zürich
University of Maryland researchers contribute to historic detection of gravitational waves and light created by event
On August 17, 2017, at 12:41:04 UTC, scientists made the first direct observation of a merger between two neutron stars--the dense, collapsed cores that remain...
Seven new papers describe the first-ever detection of light from a gravitational wave source. The event, caused by two neutron stars colliding and merging together, was dubbed GW170817 because it sent ripples through space-time that reached Earth on 2017 August 17. Around the world, hundreds of excited astronomers mobilized quickly and were able to observe the event using numerous telescopes, providing a wealth of new data.
Previous detections of gravitational waves have all involved the merger of two black holes, a feat that won the 2017 Nobel Prize in Physics earlier this month....
Material defects in end products can quickly result in failures in many areas of industry, and have a massive impact on the safe use of their products. This is why, in the field of quality assurance, intelligent, nondestructive sensor systems play a key role. They allow testing components and parts in a rapid and cost-efficient manner without destroying the actual product or changing its surface. Experts from the Fraunhofer IZFP in Saarbrücken will be presenting two exhibits at the Blechexpo in Stuttgart from 7–10 November 2017 that allow fast, reliable, and automated characterization of materials and detection of defects (Hall 5, Booth 5306).
When quality testing uses time-consuming destructive test methods, it can result in enormous costs due to damaging or destroying the products. And given that...
Using a new cooling technique MPQ scientists succeed at observing collisions in a dense beam of cold and slow dipolar molecules.
How do chemical reactions proceed at extremely low temperatures? The answer requires the investigation of molecular samples that are cold, dense, and slow at...
Scientists from the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics, using high precision laser spectroscopy of atomic hydrogen, confirm the surprisingly small value of the proton radius determined from muonic hydrogen.
It was one of the breakthroughs of the year 2010: Laser spectroscopy of muonic hydrogen resulted in a value for the proton charge radius that was significantly...
17.10.2017 | Event News
10.10.2017 | Event News
10.10.2017 | Event News
19.10.2017 | Life Sciences
19.10.2017 | Interdisciplinary Research
19.10.2017 | Earth Sciences