Tomatoes to the rescue!

Published on December 7th, 2011
Tomatoes to the rescue!

Sounds like a B-Grade science-fiction movie with a twist – the humans get a little slack for a change! We get healed instead of annihilated or possessed.

Even though people view genetically modified (GM) food as ‘alien’ these tomatoes will maybe help change a few minds. They are grown to contain an edible vaccine that is used to challenge two of the most lethal viruses – HIV and the hepatitis B virus (HBV).

The aim is to provide vaccines that can be easily grown and processed in poorer countries. Scientists at the Siberian Institute of Plant Physiology and Biochemistry use soil bacterium to shuttle a synthetic combination of HIV and HBV fragments into the tomatoes. The plants then manufacture the proteins and when they are eaten, prompt the body to create antibodies against the viruses.

Research is still under way, though. So keep those fingers crossed for Mr T.