Join geneticist Kevin Folta and GLP contributor Cameron English on this episode of Science Facts and Fallacies as they break down these latest news stories:
I think this work will lay the methodological foundation for gene editing in cattle in Russia, which will lead to more complex challenges. For instance, we can make cows produce certain proteins they normally don’t for biotechnological purposes.
Vaccines are undoubtedly one of the most important developments in the history of public health. While they routinely prevent the spread of infectious disease, transporting temperature-sensitive vaccines to parts of the world where they can do the most good can be a logistical nightmare. Edible vaccines, engineered into popular foods like rice or tomatoes, offer a potential way around the technical challenges of getting these badly needed drugs where they need to go.
Showing the potential of this technology, researchers from the University of Tokyo and Chiba University have developed a cholera vaccine that can be distributed in genetically engineered rice:
When the plants are mature, the rice is harvested and ground into a fine powder, then sealed in aluminum packets for storage. When people are ready to be vaccinated, the powder is mixed with about 90 milliliters (1/3 U.S. cup) of liquid and then drunk.
A Phase 1 clinical trial involving 30 participants found no evidence of negative side effects from the vaccine. Additional studies will be done to confirm the results of the trial and determine if the vaccine is effective against cholera.
Kevin M. Folta is a professor in the Horticultural Sciences Department at the University of Florida. Follow Professor Folta on Twitter @kevinfolta