Imagine being able to receive our essential vaccinations by simple eating a banana, potato, lettuce, carrots, and even a tomato. Well, now this is no longer an idea but a reality, all thanks to Dr. Charles Arntzen a scientist that wants to develop a way to end infant mortality in developing countries. Dr. Arntzen developed an oral vaccine that fulfilled the needs of developing countries an inexpensive way to vaccinate their children from infectious diseases. I’ll show what gene(s) were used to create and modified our food to become an edible vaccine, next identify the organism that was the source that provided the gene(s) to make this possible, then explain the purpose of the creating these edible vaccines, and lastly how is this being used today.
The gene that is used to create an edible vaccine are the antigen protein from the bacterial cell of Agrobacterium tumefaciens and is planted inside the DNA of the plant cell which targets the immune response in the recipient. The organism in which the gene was provided by was the bacterium Agrobacterium tumefaciens, also known as Crown gall and is a virus that occurs in plants and is identified by the overgrowth that it causes to appear on the roots and at the base of fruits and nuts such as apples, apricots, cherries, pears, and walnuts. They use bacterium Agrobacterium tumefaciens since it will deliver the necessary genetic blueprints so the plant can successfully become an edible vaccine. To closely illustrate the production of an edible vaccine, I’ll explain on how the make a potato into an edible vaccine. First, they get the leaf that produces potatoes and cut it. Secondly, they expose the leaf to the bacteria that carries the antigen gene and an antibiotic resistance gene; this allows the bacteria to deliver the gene into the leaf’s DNA. Thirdly, the leaf will become exposed to the antibiotic that will kill the cells that lack the new genes. Then wait for the surviving altered- genes will multiply and form a clump/ crown gall, allow to sprout shoots and roots. Lastly, put it in the soil, within three months the plantlets will grow into plants with antigens with the components of a certain vaccine.
The purpose that Charles J. Arntzen wanted to create this edible vaccine to offer a cheaper method of vaccinating people mostly in third-world countries since about ten million children die in developing countries each year of infectious diseases that could’ve been prevented with a vaccine. Some people in third-world countries do not have the resources or enough money to buy and vaccinate their children; this is why Dr. Arntzen developed the edible vaccine since it is way cheaper and they can simply buy the seeds and grow it and they will have their very own edible vaccine. Plus, more people die from doctors using non-sterilized syringes, which accounts for the deaths of about 13 million people each year.
Currently, edible vaccines are not in current use, they are still going through testing and trails. They’re now in the works of an edible vaccine for hepatitis B. The positives of the vaccine is that it is less painful than a shot and most children are fearful of getting a vaccine from the doctor. Secondly, it is a cheaper way of producing, there is no need for refrigeration like other vaccines.
In conclusion, edible vaccine can benefit many people who live in developing countries since most children die from being unvaccinated for certain illness. This is a way cheaper method of getting a vaccine and more reliable since we will not have to worry if our strings are sterilized and not worry of getting infected with something else. Plus, the vaccines are made of natural components that are plant cells and not like some plants that contain animal cells.