Scientists affiliated with Université Laval located in Quebec City, Canada, are championing plant-based and edible vaccines, a worthwhile and safe alternative to their traditional chemical-based counterparts.
“[Recent] successes have revived interest in plant-produced pharmaceuticals for human use, which could include edible drugs,” say the authors of the article. “Oral administration of drugs is a user-friendly alternative to the intravenous route.”
Plant-based vaccines are fast – they can be obtained in three weeks – and are safer since they cannot be contaminated with animal pathogens. They can even be more effective than traditional ones. The particles that plants naturally have to generate a stronger immune response than the adjuvants – the chemical equivalent of those particles added separately in traditional vaccines – which are also responsible for most of the side effects encountered. As for edible vaccines, they could be even cheaper and easier to produce since they would require less clinical processing and purification, and could be dehydrated and stored at room temperature.