The NIH has been supporting the research work of a scientist at the University of Central Florida who's been developing a low-cost, dual vaccine for malaria and cholera using genetically engineered tobacco and lettuce plants.
Henry Daniell's science team has been feeding the plant-based vaccine to mice and they say that they have data demonstrating its potential as a long-term protection against both diseases. Now they want to try the vaccine out on people to see if their work can translate to the human side.
"I'm very encouraged because our technique works well and provides an affordable way to get vaccines to people who need them most and can least afford them," said Daniell. Results from his research are being published in this month's Plant Biotechnology. "We're talking about producing mass quantities for pennies on the dollar. And distribution to mass populations would be easy because it could be made into a simple pill, like a vitamin, which many people routinely take now. There is no need for expensive purification, cold storage, transportation or sterile delivery via injections."
Daniell's vaccine research work with genetically engineered plants include efforts on a low-cost source of insulin. His teams have advanced new vaccines against anthrax and the black plague. And he's credited with the research that spawned the university's first biotech spinout.