Monday, June 18, 2007


Take the kids to your bomb shelter, ladies and gentlemen.

Despite my continual pleas to researchers to STOP PLAYING GOD, arrogant (no doubt atheistic materialistic) researchers have created another GMO monster.

This time: Rice.

Rice that can be used... brace yourself... AS A CHOLERA VACCINE.

Rice-based mucosal vaccine as a global strategy for cold-chain- and needle-free vaccination

Now, contrary to what extremely knowledgeable people will tell you about plants as vaccines*, a rice vaccine isnt like, boiling a pot of rice and eating your vaccine. The rice can be used to create the antigen of interest, and rice/plants also make some other proteins/starches that are useful for protecting the antigen until it gets to your intestine to be presented to your immune cells (like when you poop corn).

So really this rice is going to be ground up and put into pill form, which is fantastic on so many levels!
1. Dont need a needle. Ive said over and over and OVER (are you listening, HIV-Circumcision 'researchers'??) its really damn hard to make sure your needles/equipment is appropriately sterilized in the third world. I dont care how many seminars youve had on how to sterilize needles. It doesnt always get done. Plus, I dont think youll hear any kids complaining about a lack of needles ;)

2. Can be kept at room temperature. No refrigeration. Aint gonna always have that in the third world either. Sure you might have a fridge, but it might not have power. And they tested batches that were left at room temp for 1.5 years-- Still worked. AWESOME!

3. Introducing the antigen through the intestinal mucosa. These folks found that introducing the cholera antigen orally works great because cholera normally infects through your digestive tract! Convinces lots of sentinel immune cells to hang out in your intestine and wait for another cholera bug to float by!

Those goddamn bastards. WHEN WILL WE LEARN????

* They used Agrobacterium tumefaciens-mediated transformation to create this GMO rice. Not retroviruses, Davie.


Torbjörn Larsson said...

they tested batches that were left at room temp for 1.5 years-- Still worked.

I am sometimes pleasantly surprised that advertised benefits of a new technology is realized or even exceeded. When it happens in medicine I get this warm, fuzzy feeling... oh, now I remember, it's joy!

John said...

Yeah, agreed. I love the feeling of going "Huh--cool." Even better when it involved a vaccine for a severe bacterial disease and not, like, a robot that plays the saxophone or something.

The Factician said...

Cool idea, more than likely this one won't work, though.

Cholera has been incredibly refractory to vaccination. The currently available vaccine only works in people with a Western diet (i.e. travelers). It doesn't work in people that actually live in the areas that have endemic cholera. Sad, but true (and it's not clear why this is the case).

If I were to try to test this idea (vaccine in rice) it wouldn't have been with cholera. Other problem is there's no good animal model. Even if mice make antibodies, doesn't much matter. Mice don't get cholera. The only animal that we can force to get cholera is infant mice, and even they don't get the same symptoms.

Anyway, it's a cool idea, and hopefully it works.