Bioengineered plant makes antibodies against HIV

A group of Swedish researchers say that they have developed a new HIV vaccine that can be produced in plants and has proven effective in mice.

"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.

It's impossible to transfer a gene directly into a plant. But the researchers got around that obstacle by putting the gene into bacterium and then into a plant. Mice which consumed the plant material produced antibodies that protected them from HIV.

Their next step will involve adding new proteins and molecules into the mix to boost the efficacy of the plant-based vaccine and increase the probability of its success in humans. They also are seeking an ideal plant that could fit easily into a variety of diets and grow around the world. The carrot may be ideal.

- check out the press release