New tobacco that produces flu vaccines could rescue the plant's reputation
By Lynne PeeplesPosted 05.20.2010 at 11:52 am 14 Comments
Cigarettes kill more than four million people a year, but a cousin of the tobacco plant could help protect the rest of us from a major flu pandemic. This February, Darpa, the Pentagon's R&D branch, awarded $40 million to Texas A&M University and pharmaceutical manufacturer G-Con to launch Project GreenVax, an effort to speed vaccine production by growing it in tobacco. First, scientists engineer bacteria to carry the latest flu markers and wash them over Nicotiana benthamiana tobacco plants.
When it comes to energy efficiency, there’s still no substitute for millions upon millions of years of evolution. Scientists at UC Berkeley have found a way to hack common tobacco plants to grow synthetic photovoltaic and photochemical cells that can be extracted, dissolved in solution and sprayed onto a glass or plastic substrate to create solar panels. That’s the idea, anyhow.
The findings of a recent mice study suggest that smoking reduces allergic reactions by inhibiting mast cell activity. This, of course, begs the question, Was tobacco giant Altria in on this?
Also in today's links: thoughts of money, and "you Neanderthal" is no longer a putdown.