Is it a good idea to genetically engineer food to be vaccines?

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Messenger RNA or mRNA technology, used in COVID-19 vaccines, works by teaching our cells to recognize and protect us against infectious diseases.

One of the challenges with this new technology is that it must be kept cold to maintain stability during transport and storage. If this new project is successful, plant-based mRNA vaccines — which can be eaten — could overcome this challenge with the ability to be stored at room temperature.

The project’s goals, made possible by a $500,000 grant from the National Science Foundation, are threefold: 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, and finally, determining the right dosage.

“Ideally, a single plant would produce enough mRNA to vaccinate a single person,” said Juan Pablo Giraldo, an associate professor in UCR’s Department of Botany and Plant Sciences who is leading the research, 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,” Giraldo said. “Farmers could also eventually grow entire fields of it.”

Source : https://news.ucr.edu/articles/2021/09/16/grow-and-eat-your-own-vaccines
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Is it a good idea to genetically engineer food to be vaccines?
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