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Did you know plants help develop COVID-19 vaccines?

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Recent innovations in plant biotechnology are making a critical contribution to the future of human health. These techniques have enabled scientists to use plants as “bio-factories” to produce antibodies against cancer [1] and vaccines including for influenza [2], dengue [3] and now COVID-19 [4]. This area of science is also used to help support the emergency need for diagnostic kits and antiviral drugs [5].

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To find out more, watch the following animation that illustrates Horizontal Gene Transfer.

Recent breakthroughs in plant sciences and biotechnology, including genome editing, will also be critical to enable rapid responses to future disease outbreaks and pandemics. Continued innovation in this area could also help achieve more resilient and sustainable agriculture, providing regulations make this possible.

1 Nessa MU, et al. (2020) Plant-Produced Monoclonal Antibody as Immunotherapy for Cancer. https://doi.org/10.1155/2020/3038564
2 Rybicki, E.P. Plant-based vaccines against viruses. Virol J 11, 205 (2014). https://doi.org/10.1186/s12985-014-0205-0
3 Ponndorf, D., et al. (2021) Plant-made dengue virus-like particles produced by co-expression of structural and non-structural proteins induce a humoral immune response in mice. Plant Biotechnol. J. https://doi.org/10.1111/pbi.13501
4 Medicago.com - COVID-19 Programs (medicago.com)
5 Capell T, et al. (2020) Potential Applications of Plant Biotechnology against SARS-CoV-2. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.tplants.2020.04.00