Plant-based norovirus vax ready for human tests

Every winter, norovirus--more commonly called the vomiting virus--causes misery on board cruise ships and inside schools and other places where people often crowd together. Now a group of scientists say that they're preparing to start human tests on a new vaccine for the virus that was manufactured using tobacco plants.

Using an engineered version of the plant, researchers at Arizona State University say that they can whip up a vaccine for tests inside of 10 weeks, with commercial scale production up and running in a matter of months. That kind of ready, aim, fire approach would be necessary to counter any outbreaks, as the norovirus is notoriously unstable and subject to frequent mutations.

In an animal study, the scientists say that the engineered plant virus--which doesn't include infectious material--spurred an effective immune response. They also developed a nasal delivery system which will be put to the test later this year.

- read the report from the BBC

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