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Monday, October 25, 2021
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The Jab-Less Vaccine

One thing that makes our progression so meaningful is that we have clocked our achievements in a lot of different ways. Instead of relaying all our efforts towards one or a limited amount of focal points, we have invested heavily in branching out, which in turn has ensured a sense of versatility in the way we do everything. This versatility has a bigger role than you think. By adding variety into each aspect, we have managed to enhance the potential utility of the things that surround us. The biggest example of it, of course, has a ton to do with technology. Technology might be prevalent to an overpowering point today, but when it first came around, it had relatively little to offer. This is not to say that what it brought to the table initially wasn’t useful enough. However, we knew it could do so much more, thus we gradually expanded its reach, preparing the creation for the kind of stronghold it boasts these days. The pursuit to reinvent our lives through tech principles led us into a direction that no other generation had dared to explore, and it’s safe to say that the move was outright worthwhile. All of a sudden, sectors like healthcare were able to impact our lives in a unique way, something that was on full display during the Covid 19 pandemic. If it wasn’t for technology, we couldn’t have imagined getting the vaccine within a year. Now, it might have been an accomplishment of epic proportions, but was it flawless? No! The make-up of mRNA drug posed all sorts of challenges at us. With all the stringent storage requirements, it became hard to make sure that the vaccine is reaching every corner of the world. In a bid to solve that issue, the University of California Riverside has come up with an answer.

The researching team at UCR recently announced that they, along with UC San Diego and Carnegie Mellon University, are working on a plant-based messenger mRNA. This new version of the vaccine wouldn’t carry any requirements of constant refrigeration during transport and storage. What the new setup, if successful, will see is DNA containing mRNA vaccines getting shipped across the world where it can easily replicate. Interestingly, though, the UCR researchers are focusing on harnessing the nature of chloroplasts to make the new vaccines edible, thus replacing the traditional injections we are currently using.

“Ideally, a single plant would produce enough mRNA to vaccinate a single person,” says Juan Pablo Giraldo, an associate professor in UCR’s Department of Botany and Plant Sciences. “We are testing this approach with spinach and lettuce and have long-term goals of people growing it in their own gardens.

It must be noted that such a step won’t just benefit the distribution of Covid 19 vaccine, but it will also elevate the potential of mRNA as whole. Convinced by its ambitions, National Science Foundation has funded the research with a grant worth $500,000.

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