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Information on agricultural biotechnology for plant and animal researchers and policy-makers

News Article

Banana May Be Best for Hepatitis B


Bananas have emerged as the best candidate to deliver a bite-sized vaccine for hepatitis B virus (HBV) to millions of people in developing countries, according to an article scheduled for the June 1 issue of ACS’ Biotechnology Progress, a bi-monthly journal co-published with the American Institute of Chemical Engineers.

Bananas have emerged as the best candidate to deliver a bite-sized vaccine for hepatitis B virus (HBV) to millions of people in developing countries, according to an article scheduled for the June 1 issue of ACS’ >Biotechnology Progress, a bi-monthly journal co-published with the American Institute of Chemical Engineers.

In the article, India’s V. A. Bapat and colleagues update and review worldwide research on efforts to genetically engineer plants as biofactories for the production of vaccines. They focus on transferring genes to produce HBV vaccine, noting that there already are 350 million carriers of hepatitis B worldwide, with 1 million new cases annually.  An estimated 75 million -100 million of those infected individuals may die from liver cirrhosis or liver cancer as a result, the article adds.

The authors explain that plant-based production of an oral hepatitis B vaccine has economic and other advantages over the existing injectable vaccine. Researchers so far have successfully engineered several plants (including banana, potato, lettuce, carrot, and tobacco)  to produce HBV vaccines. They explain why banana appears to be the ideal production and delivery vehicle for HBV vaccine, and the further research and development needed to exploit bananas in the global battle against HBV.

Among the benefits of banana are its digestibility and palatability for infants, and the fact that it is available throughout the year in the tropics and subtropics, where the vaccine is needed most. As most edible bananas are vegetative propagated and do not set seed, this makes gene containment possible.
 
The paper, “Production of Hepatitis B Surface Antigen in Recombinant Plant Systems: An Update”, appears in Biotechnology Progress 10.1021/bp0602754 S8756-7938(06)00275-X

Contact: V. A. Bapat, Nuclear Agriculture and Biotechnology Division, Bhabha Atomic Research Center, Mumbai, India
Tel: 91-22-25595049
Fax: 91-22-25505151
Email: vabapat@magnum.barc.ernet.in

Article details

  • Author(s)
  • David Hemming
  • Date
  • 01 May 2007
  • Subject(s)
  • Genetic engineering/ modification