Getting a vaccination could soon be as simple as eating a potato. Researchers at the University of Maryland, led by Dr. Carol Tacket, are developing edible vaccines that could grant immunity against some diseases.
To be inoculated against a virus, bacterium, or toxin, the antibodies of our immune systems must be exposed to the illness-bearing agent, or pathogen. Vaccines work by exposing the body to pathogens that have been killed or disarmed. Once sensitized, antibodies can mobilize rapidly against familiar enemies by binding to them and preventing their growth and activity.
Most vaccines are delivered in shots or pills, but the new one will be incorporated in raw potatoes. The potatoes have been genetically engineered to produce the key piece of an E.coli toxin that causes acute diarrhea. As the spuds move through the intestinal system and are digested, the toxin fragment is released and exposed to the immune system, which then generates antibodies against the toxin.
Dr. Tacket’s group is waiting for approval from the FDA to test the potato vaccine on humans; it has already been tested successfully in mice. The next step would be to genetically modify bananas to carry vaccines, because raw bananas taste better than raw potatoes.
The potential for edible vaccines is tremendous, especially in developing countries. Whereas current vaccines are expensive to produce, store, transport, and administer, an edible vaccine could be grown where it is needed in the quantity desired, and requires considerably less medical expertise to use.
EXERCISE 1: Below are list of vocabulary from the reading article. Complete the table by providing the definition and sample sentence for each of the given vocabulary. You may download, link below.
|edible||fit to be eaten as food||Fruits found in the forest may not be edible.|
|grant (verb)||to give||Their request for monetary allowance was granted.|
|immunity||the condition that permits either natural or acquired resistance to disease||Vaccines help the body build immunity to diseases.|
EXERCISE 2: Reading Comprehension Questions
Download questions to test your reading comprehension.
EXERCISE 3: Write a short essay on any of the following topics.
- How a CoViD-19 vaccine works?
- Benefits of CoViD-19 vaccine
- Advantages of a vaccinated person over unvaccinated individual
- Importance of vaccination
- How are CoViD-19 vaccines administered?