California scientists are now working on edible vaccines via edible plants with the same technology used to develop the Pfizer and Moderna COVID shots.

Researchers at the University of California, Riverside (UCR) are behind the said medical breakthrough. They are attempting to grow vegetables that can deliver vaccines with the same messenger RNA (mRNA) vaccine technology used for Pfizer and Moderna shots.

The mRNA technology in the Pfizer and Moderna COVID shots is known to work by delivering instructions to the body on how to form spike proteins that fuel COVID infection.

The immune system will fight the proteins once it detects them on one's body and forms immunity to the proteins if they appear again in one's body via exposure to the virus.

The National Science Foundation backed the scientists from the said university. They received at least a $500,000 grant from the organization to pursue the study on edible vaccines, Fox 31 reported.

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Vaccine Salad: COVID Vaccine Through Edible Plants

To be successful in the said medical breakthrough, the team of researchers needs to accomplish three goals. First, researchers need to successfully deliver DNA with mRNA vaccine into plant cells to replicate. 

Second, scientists need to provide evidence that the plants have enough mRNA to replace vaccinations. Lastly, they need to determine the correct dosage people will need to eat to properly replace vaccination.

Lead researcher Juan Pablo Giraldo from UCR's Department of Botany said a single plant "ideally" produces enough mRNA to inoculate an individual.

Researchers are also focusing on how to deploy mRNA material into the plant's chloroplasts that can carry genes that are not part of the plant.

According to Giraldo, their team is testing the said approach in different leafy vegetables such as spinach and lettuce.

Benefits of Edible Vaccines

Apart from having the goal of the COVID vaccines delivered orally through edible plants, Giraldo noted that people growing their edible vaccines is one of their long-term goals.

"Farmers could also eventually grow entire fields of it [edible vaccines]," Giraldo said.

Aside from growing their edible vaccines, the Daily Mail reported that vaccines via edible plants could be easier to distribute and could be helpful for lower-income countries.

The current mRNA vaccines such as Pfizer and Moderna require a temperature lower than -130 degrees Fahrenheit and require the use of dry ice to maintain their efficacy.

COVID-19: Cases and Vaccine Rates

California researchers looking for other avenues such as edible vaccines to protect more people against COVID came as the U.S. continues to roll out the vaccinations among Americans.

The latest Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) COVID-19 weekly review revealed the current seven-day average of COVID cases at 146,182, a 6.1 percent increase compared with the previous average of 137,783.

The current seven-day average of hospitalizations due to COVID was recorded at 11,165, a 5.7 percent decrease from the previous average of 11,836.

The CDC further noted that at least 54.2 percent of the American population were fully vaccinated, while 63.5 percent of the U.S. population received at least one dose of the COVID vaccine.

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This article is owned by Latin Post

Written by: Joshua Summers

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