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; firstname.lastname@example.org.
World’s Largest Study on Allergic Rhinitis Reveals new Risk Genes
17.07.2018 | Helmholtz Zentrum München - Deutsches Forschungszentrum für Gesundheit und Umwelt
Plant mothers talk to their embryos via the hormone auxin
17.07.2018 | Institute of Science and Technology Austria
For the first time ever, scientists have determined the cosmic origin of highest-energy neutrinos. A research group led by IceCube scientist Elisa Resconi, spokesperson of the Collaborative Research Center SFB1258 at the Technical University of Munich (TUM), provides an important piece of evidence that the particles detected by the IceCube neutrino telescope at the South Pole originate from a galaxy four billion light-years away from Earth.
To rule out other origins with certainty, the team led by neutrino physicist Elisa Resconi from the Technical University of Munich and multi-wavelength...
For the first time a team of researchers have discovered two different phases of magnetic skyrmions in a single material. Physicists of the Technical Universities of Munich and Dresden and the University of Cologne can now better study and understand the properties of these magnetic structures, which are important for both basic research and applications.
Whirlpools are an everyday experience in a bath tub: When the water is drained a circular vortex is formed. Typically, such whirls are rather stable. Similar...
Physicists working with Roland Wester at the University of Innsbruck have investigated if and how chemical reactions can be influenced by targeted vibrational excitation of the reactants. They were able to demonstrate that excitation with a laser beam does not affect the efficiency of a chemical exchange reaction and that the excited molecular group acts only as a spectator in the reaction.
A frequently used reaction in organic chemistry is nucleophilic substitution. It plays, for example, an important role in in the synthesis of new chemical...
Optical spectroscopy allows investigating the energy structure and dynamic properties of complex quantum systems. Researchers from the University of Würzburg present two new approaches of coherent two-dimensional spectroscopy.
"Put an excitation into the system and observe how it evolves." According to physicist Professor Tobias Brixner, this is the credo of optical spectroscopy....
Ultra-short, high-intensity X-ray flashes open the door to the foundations of chemical reactions. Free-electron lasers generate these kinds of pulses, but there is a catch: the pulses vary in duration and energy. An international research team has now presented a solution: Using a ring of 16 detectors and a circularly polarized laser beam, they can determine both factors with attosecond accuracy.
Free-electron lasers (FELs) generate extremely short and intense X-ray flashes. Researchers can use these flashes to resolve structures with diameters on the...
13.07.2018 | Event News
12.07.2018 | Event News
03.07.2018 | Event News
17.07.2018 | Information Technology
17.07.2018 | Materials Sciences
17.07.2018 | Power and Electrical Engineering