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17 April 2014 12:48 pm ,
Vol. 344 ,
Officials last week revealed that the U.S. contribution to ITER could cost $3.9 billion by 2034—roughly four times the...
An experimental hepatitis B drug that looked safe in animal trials tragically killed five of 15 patients in 1993. Now,...
Using the two high-quality genomes that exist for Neandertals and Denisovans, researchers find clues to gene activity...
A new report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) concludes that humanity has done little to slow...
Astronomers have discovered an Earth-sized planet in the habitable zone of a red dwarf—a star cooler than the sun—500...
Three years ago, Jennifer Francis of Rutgers University proposed that a warming Arctic was altering the behavior of the...
- 17 April 2014 12:48 pm , Vol. 344 , #6181
- About Us
Plants Battle Cavity Creeps
27 April 1998 7:30 pm
After polishing your teeth, the dentist of tomorrow may well have you swish a mouthful of plant vaccine. Researchers have shown that antibodies from genetically engineered plants can ward off tooth-decaying bacteria for up to 4 months. The finding, reported in tomorrow's Nature Medicine, might also lead to preventive measures for other diseases.
To make antibodies cheaply, Julian K.-C. Ma of the United Medical and Dental Schools in London and his colleagues created tobacco plants that carry the gene for an antibody to a surface protein of the major tooth-rotting bacterium Streptococcus mutans. After purifying the tobacco-produced antibody from the plants, the researchers tested its ability to prevent S. mutans from recolonizing a sterilized mouth. First the researchers had six volunteers gargle with an antibiotic mouthwash that killed off most bacteria in their mouths. Next, they applied 5 microliters of the antibody solution to each tooth, repeating the application twice a week for 3 weeks. Four months after the treatments ended, the bacteria had still not regained a foothold; the bugs returned to unvaccinated mouths within 3 to 8 weeks.
Experts are impressed by the antibody's staying power. "I was shocked to see that it lasted so long," says William Langridge, a molecular biologist at Loma Linda University in California. He notes that the antibody Ma's group used is more resistant to enzyme degradation than others tried in the past. But don't expect to be munching on a cavity-fighting plant, such as a celery stalk, anytime soon: Ma says the most likely way of administering this vaccine will be as a lozenge or mouthwash.