We all take vaccine from our childhood days. A vaccine is any preparation intended to produce immunity to a disease by stimulating the production of antibodies (WHO). Vaccines include suspensions of killed or attenuated microorganisms, or products or derivatives of microorganisms. The most common method of administering vaccines is by injection, but some are given orally or as nasal spray (Vaccination).
The use of live vaccinia virus as a vaccine for smallpox dates back to 1796, When Edward Jenner first revealed that this virus, harmless to humans, could stimulate immunity against the smallpox virus. This discovery wiped out one of the most dreadful disease "smallpox" in 1980.
Success story of vaccines ......
• Eradication of polio throughout the world by year 2003 (WHO)
• Significant reduction of incidence of diseases like : Diphtheria, Pertussis (whooping cough) &Tetanus(DPT Vaccine), Hepatitis B,Tuberculosis, Measles, Mumps, Rubella etc
Conventional vaccines consists of attenuated or inactivated pathogens.Recombinant vaccines(Hepatitis B vaccine obtained by using recombinant DNA technique) are produced nowadays, through bacterial fermentation or in animal cell culture, which makes their cost high. In developing countries, transport and storage of vaccines cause many problems. Therefore, plants are being developed as alternative choice for vaccine production and storage.
Plant Based Vaccines
Antigens of several pathogens, e.g., enteric pathogens, produce immunogeneic response when delivered orally; such antigens are good candidate for edible vaccines.Researchers hope to produce less expensive and easily available edible vaccines by careful genetic engineering of certain fruits and vegetables. The idea behind the edible vaccines is that people get vaccinated through their diet.
Many researcher groups have been in the run to make plant based vaccines. Dr. Charles Arntzen (Arizona State University) and his team has been recognized as a pioneer in the development of plant-based vaccines for human disease prevention.
Plants under investigation include Banana, Tomato, Potato, Lettuce, Wheat, Rice, Corn, Spinach, Soybean and Legumes.
Hopefully, you can take your vaccination by eating a banana or tomato.