In the fight against diseases, one disease which continues to elude is AIDS. Most medication until now, can only slow down the progression of AIDS. However, with help from researchers in Mexico, plants may soon offer a solution.
One of the greatest problems that the world faces is creating treatments for HIV at costs that even the developing world can afford. Or even better, creating production methods for a vaccine that can be inexpensively set up in developing countries – and what could be less expensive than growing a plant.
One such solution involves using plants to produce a vaccine as presented by Dr. Miguel Angel Gomez Lim and his group at the Center for Research and Advanced Studies (Centro de Investigacion y de Estudios Avanzados) Irapuato, Mexico. In their recent publication they showed how they were successful in generating transgenic tomato plants that produced a key HIV protein called Tat.
The first hurdle faced by Dr. Lim in generating the enhanced plants was the selection of the right plant. He zeroed in on tomatoes, unlike the commonly used tobacco, to avoid consumption of toxic alkaloids found in tobacco plants.
To generate the transgenic tomato plants, Dr. Lim selected the Tat gene and joined it with another gene responsible for fruit-specific expression of proteins in tomatoes. The genetically modified Tat gene construct was introduced into tomato cotyledons via standardized procedure and transgenic plants were grown to maturity.
Source: Fruit-specific expression of the human immunodeficiency virus type 1 tat gene in tomato plants and its immunogenic potential in mice.Ramírez YJ, Tasciotti E, Gutierrez-Ortega A, Donayre Torres AJ, Olivera Flores MT, Giacca M, Gómez Lim MA