Scientists Want to Replace Injections by Turning Plants into Edible mRNA Vaccines

Scientists at the University of California-Riverside will be studying how to turn plants into “mRNA vaccine factories,” the school announced last week.

The National Science Foundation (NSF), which is partly funded by the federal government and created by Congress in 1950, awarded the school a $500,000 grant in August. The goal of the study is to find a way “to grow edible plants that carry the same medication as an mRNA vaccine,”  WFLA reported on Saturday.

“Ideally, a single plant would produce enough mRNA to vaccinate a single person,”Juan Pablo Giraldo said in a statement. He is an associate professor in UCR’s Department of Botany and Plant Sciences and is leading the research.

The study will reportedly be done in collaboration with scientists from UC San Diego and Carnegie Mellon University.

“We are testing this approach with spinach and lettuce and have long-term goals of people growing it in their own gardens,” he continued. “Farmers could also eventually grow entire fields of it.”

The project overall has three goals, according to the school:

  • Showing that DNA containing the mRNA vaccines can be successfully delivered into the part of plant cells where it will replicate
  • demonstrating the plants can produce enough mRNA to rival a traditional shot
  • determining the right dosage.

Turning mRNA vaccines into edible plants is one solution to the challenge of always keeping mRNA vaccines cold during transport — plant-based mRNA vaccines would ideally be able to be stored at room temperature. – READ MORE

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