20 November 1998

GMpotatoes put on trial next year

POTATOES which have been genetically modified to produce a novel hepatitis B vaccine are to be grown and used in the USAin human consumption trials for the first time next year.

The move follows agreement between Axis Genetics of Cambridge, which developed the edible plant vaccine in potatoes, and Ag-Tec International, which will produce disease-free seed for production in growth rooms.

Potatoes from the programme will go into human feeding trials in the US next year. Preliminary animal studies suggest potatoes producing hepatitis B antigens could provide an oral alternative to injections.