Biotech Updates

GM Tomatoes may Prevent Alzheimer’s Disease

July 11, 2008

Genetically modified tomatoes can be a suitable carrier for an oral vaccine against Alzheimer’s disease (AD), according to a group of researchers from Korea. Alzheimer’s disease is the most common cause of dementia. The neurodegenerative disease is believed to be caused by accumulation of the toxic protein β-amyloid (Aβ) in the brain. To prevent the disease, it would be necessary to develop an agent that would suppress Aβ generation. One approach is to stimulate the immune system to reduce beta-amyloid in the brain.

Since it is difficult to produce Aβ using microbial expression systems because of its toxicity, the researchers investigated the possibility of recombinant protein expression in plant cells. Tomato was chosen as the vaccine carrier since it can be eaten without heat treatment, which reduces the risk of destroying the immune stimulation potential of the foreign protein. Mice immunized orally with total soluble extracts from the GM tomato elicited an immune response after receiving a booster. The scientists said that the result represents a promising first step towards finding an edible vaccine against the disease, albeit the research is still in its early stages.

 The paper published by the journal Biotechnology Letters is available at  Read the summary at