Plants are new weapon in fight against dengue

May 29, 2018 by Jane Icke, University of Nottingham
Plants are new weapon in fight against Dengue
Credit: University of Nottingham

Scientists have discovered a way to create disease fighting proteins from tobacco plants which could lead to the development of a vaccine for Dengue Fever.

Currently, there is no promising treatment for Dengue Fever, a disease that infects almost 400 million people worldwide every year and is Malaysia's most prevalent infectious disease. Carried by Aedes mosquitos, the causes severe headaches, muscle and joint pains, swollen lymph nodes, vomiting, fever and rash and in some cases can be serious or life threatening.

A team of scientists from the University of Nottingham Malaysia are working on a project to create a plant-based , which if successful would provide a safe and cost effective way to prevent this disease.

Moving closer to an oral vaccine

Professor Sandy Loh is leading the research and says: "Vaccines are created from proteins that can be produced in many different systems and research usually focuses on mammalian cell, bacterial cell or fungus. Using for this process is a new platform to emerge that has the potential to provide an edible based vaccine that can be used in orally taken medicine. Other than , we are also working on edible plant species such as lettuce which we hope will eventually lead to an in the future."

"Using plants to develop a vaccine in this way offers many advantages like higher expression, lower production cost, easier distribution as there is no need for trained nurses to provide injections and better safety as there are no animal or human pathogens which increases the biosafety aspect."

Neutralising the Dengue virus

The project has produced a vaccine antigen (protein) within the plant that neutralises the Dengue virus. The uniqueness of the project is the use of a transient expression process called Agroinfiltration. During this process, a defective plant virus is combined with Agrobacterium in making an expression vector that delivers the Dengue vaccine antigen into the leaf of the tobacco plant. It is then incubated and harvested after a few days that the vaccine antigen can be extracted and purified for use as a vaccine.

The findings of the project have verified that an immune response is created using the plant-based vaccine in an animal model and the antibodies produced can neutralize the Dengue virus. The next stage of the research will involve virus challenge studies to determine the protection efficacy of the plant-based vaccine.

Quick and safe development

As well as Dengue Fever, this technique has also been used to investigate plant based vaccine for Avian Flu and has had similar success. Professor Loh continues; "For developing countries, the development of a cost effective vaccine from plants would have a significant impact as it would mean they can develop their own local vaccines to combat endemic diseases. Providing vaccines in this way would undoubtedly save many lives."

One of the unqiue aspects of this research is the speediness at which the vaccines can be created using the agroinfiltration method. Professor Loh explains: "For diseases like flu which can mutate quickly, the speed at which we could potentially develop a vaccine is as rapid as one month, this means specific vaccines can be produced to be ready for any potential pandemic outbreaks."

Explore further: UN health agency: Dengue vaccine shouldn't be used widely

Related Stories

UN health agency: Dengue vaccine shouldn't be used widely

April 19, 2018
The World Health Organization says the first-ever vaccine for dengue needs to be dealt with in "a much safer way," meaning that the shot should mostly be given to people who have previously been infected with the disease.

New dengue vaccine could worsen disease in some people

November 30, 2017
Drugmaker Sanofi says that its dengue vaccine, the world's first, should only be given to people who have previously been sickened by the virus, according to new long-term data.

One step closer to a DNA vaccine against dengue virus

June 29, 2017
In a new study, researchers inoculated mice with a new DNA vaccine candidate (pVAX1-D1ME) in order to evaluate its efficiency. They found that the vaccine candidate was able to induce persistent humoral and cellular immune ...

T cell-inducing dengue vaccines may better protect children of vaccinated mothers

December 22, 2017
For a long time, a dengue vaccine was the holy grail in dengue research. Now that a dengue vaccine is finally on the market (Sanofi's Dengvaxia), other issues have arisen, such as what happens in the babies of vaccinated ...

Recommended for you

'Game changer' tuberculosis drug cures 9 in 10

October 22, 2018
A new treatment for a drug-resistant strain of tuberculosis can cure more than 90 percent of sufferers, according to a trial hailed Monday as a "game changer" in the fight against the global killer.

AI doctor could boost chance of survival for sepsis patients

October 22, 2018
Scientists have created an artificial intelligence system that could help treat patients with sepsis.

A guide to Acute flaccid myelitis (AFM), the rare, polio-like illness making young children sick

October 22, 2018
A fast-acting, polio-like illness has sickened 62 young children, with an average age of 4, in 22 U.S. states so far this fall.

Scientists in Sweden may have figured out one way acne bacteria defies treatment

October 22, 2018
Researchers in Sweden have discovered how acne-causing bacteria feed off their human hosts. The study, which was performed at KTH Royal Institute of Technology, could make it possible to find effective ways to treat severe ...

Consuming caffeine from coffee reduces incident rosacea

October 22, 2018
(HealthDay)—Caffeine intake from coffee is inversely associated with the risk for incident rosacea, according to a study published online Oct. 17 in JAMA Dermatology.

Home-based biofeedback therapy is effective option for tough-to-treat constipation

October 22, 2018
Biofeedback therapy used at home is about 70 percent effective at helping patients learn how to coordinate and relax bowel muscles and relieve one of the most difficult-to-treat types of constipation, investigators report.

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.