8 September 2000
GM vaccines to tackle hepatitis

By FWi staff

GENETICALLY-MODIFIED tomatoes and bananas could wipe out hepatitis B, a leading American scientist said in London on Thursday (07 Sep).

Plants modified to contain a vaccine for the disease could save hundreds of thousand of lives each year, Charles Arntzen from Cornell University told scientists.

A single gene transferred into a plant is reproduced as a protein thousands of times inside the fruit, reports The Guardian.

A dried banana chip or tomato paste sandwiched in a wafer contains enough protein to act as a vaccine, but at a fraction of the cost.

Traditional vaccines require refrigeration and cost 10 for a successful course, making them too expensive for many developing countries.