Currently researchers are seeking to develop genetically altered plants that could provide immunity to infectious diseases.
Studies have already shown that genetically engineered plants and their products can act as vaccines.
Plants acting as vaccines would offer the advantage of being inexpensive to produce, and thus they could more easily be made available to developing countries. In addition, contamination with animal viruses would be eliminated, since cultured cells would not be used in the production process.
Many of the quality control tests that require animals also could be eliminated.
Edible vaccines are currently being developed for a number of human and animal diseases, including measles, cholera, foot and mouth disease, and Hepatitis-B and C. Many of these diseases are likely to require booster vaccinations or multiple antigens to induce and maintain protective immunity.