Although Polio infections have dropped by over 99% since the late 80s, there are still reported cases of the highly infectious disease. According to the World Health Organization, about 37 polio cases were reported in 2016. Is there a way to eradicate the disease for good?
Polio affects the nervous system causing paralysis. In some cases, the disease is fatal. Experts say a breakthrough study may be key to eradicating Polio as well as other infectious diseases.
According to study author Professor George Lomonossoff, a new method of growing virus-like particles (VLPs) in plants may lead to the development of a polio vaccine. Lomonossoff adds, “This is an incredible collaboration involving plant science, animal virology and structural biology. The question for us now is how to scale it up – we don’t want to stop at a lab technique.”
Mimicking polio virus in plants holds key to game-changing vaccine – studyA team of scientists are using plants to develop a new polio vaccine that they hope could finally lead to the eradication of the disease.
Scientists devised a method growing virus-like particles (VLPs) in plants which are then extracted to create the vaccine.
VLPs are non-pathogenic mimics of the virus. They look like the real thing but are not infectious as they were engineered not to contain the nucleic acid needed for the virus to reproduce.
This is a crucial point, because VLPs mimic the virus and, once administered to a patient, the person’s immune system will kick in and fight the non-infectious replica, developing an immunity without a danger that it will infect the person.
“This is an incredible collaboration involving plant science, animal virology and structural biology. The question for us now is how to scale it up – we don’t want to stop at a lab technique,” study author Professor George Lomonossoff said in a press release.
“The beauty of this system of growing non-pathogenic virus mimics in plants, is that it boosts our ability to scale-up the production of vaccine candidates to combat emerging threats to human health,” he added.
Image courtesy of: CDC Global Health