Bye bye syringe – there could be edible corona vaccine soon. There are already initial results from researchers. What is behind the new vaccine?
Tashkent – Scientists from Uzbekistan seem to have made a breakthrough: since January 2021, employees of the Center for Genomics and Bioinformatics of the Academy of Sciences of Uzbekistan have been researching an edible corona vaccine. Now their tests have delivered the first, promising results.
According to a report by UZ News, which the Uzbek TV channel Sevimli quote, the cloned S-protein of the coronavirus is said to have been transferred to the fruit cell of a tomato, which means that the vaccine can then develop its effect when consumed. Allegedly, the novel vaccine is said to have clear advantages over the vaccines available on the market.
Tomatoes do not need any special logistics or storage conditions and the vaccination can be administered more easily. In addition, the researchers suspect fewer side effects due to the special, transgenic composition of the vaccine.
Tomato as a corona vaccine? – First breakthrough in Uzbekistan
The red fruit was not chosen by chance: it can be consumed without having to be boiled or otherwise thermally treated. Rather, the cells that produce antibodies would be destroyed at high temperatures and the vaccine would lose its effectiveness, as the vaccine manufacturers emphasize.
According to the report, however, the vaccine is currently still in the trial phase, which is why the results cannot yet be scientifically confirmed. Tests are currently still being carried out on mice, but the first tests on humans may soon be possible. Provided there are no further mutations in the virus, the vaccine is said to immunize for up to a year. The researchers are confident about their new invention.
Research on edible vaccines and drugs has been around for a long time
In fact, research on edible vaccines is nothing new. As early as the 2000s, the idea of the edible ingredient was well received in the media. For more than ten years, the biochemist Prof. Henry Daniell at the University of Pennylvania has been researching a method to genetically modify plants so that they can produce active ingredients for medicines and vaccinations. He has specialized in his research on leaf lettuce and has achieved amazing things: “We spent more than ten years developing this salad and it is now very successful: It can produce incredible amounts of medicines,” says Daniell dem Deutschlandfunk reported in an interview last year.
In order to dose the medication from the salad appropriately, the leaves are freeze-dried and pulverized after the harvest. The desired dose of active ingredient is then packed into capsules. “We have shown for many different active ingredients that the freeze-dried lettuce leaves can be stored at room temperature for years without affecting the function of the active ingredients. Elaborate cold chains during transport and storage are completely superfluous, ”adds the biochemist. If these methods also work for the edible corona vaccination of the Uzbek researchers, it could revolutionize the vaccination strategy in the fight against the corona pandemic and simplify any booster vaccinations. But it will take some time before it actually comes to that. (klb)