Vaccines from ‘Backyard’

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By Geetha

The use of plants as a source of medicines is prevalent from the earliest stages of civilization. With the development of bioscience technology, it is now common knowledge that plants are potentially a new source of pharmaceutical proteins including vaccines, antibodies, blood substitutes and other therapeutic entities. These vaccines are basically ‘Edible Vaccines’.

These edible vaccines are capable of triggering an animal’s immune system. The Edible vaccines are oral, subunit vaccines that stimulate both the systematic and mucosal immune network. Banana, potato, lettuce, tobacco, wheat, soybean, rice, spinach, corn, legumes, tomato and Arabidopsis are some of the plants from which researchers have been successful in obtaining these vaccines.

Edible vaccines would be preferred over conventional vaccines for the following reasons:

1) Cutting the use and disposal of needles and syringes

2) No trained personnel required to administer injections

3) Refrigeration is not required during shipping and storage

4) Vaccines are free of mammalian viral vectors and human pathogens

5) Adjuvant is not necessary to enhance immune response

6) Production cost is low

7) Extraction and purification not required

8) Ease of mass production so on…

However, many issues must still be addressed such as low yield, immunogenicity, accumulation and stability of the transproteins, obtaining glycosylation that are normally observed in humans, contamination of food crops through cross pollination and of the vaccine itself in plant debris spreading as pollutant in air and groundwater. The vaccine antigen may affect grazing animals and humans living in the area who may drink vaccine-polluted water or breathing vaccine-polluted dust, cultivation and production of these plants are restricted to green house or plant tissue culture.

Considering the potentials, we indeed, need to think of overcoming the problems which are faced for the acceptance of these vaccines. Public and Government should encourage to open the way towards a more rapid development of this technology.

I would finally conclude, a combination of strong and adaptable regulatory oversight with technological solutions are required to make edible vaccines as potential tool to fight against many existing diseases.


Rising cost of Health Care


By Geetha

Rising cost of health care has become a major issue. Medical expenses are rising faster than the costs of any other service. Certainly, they are consuming an ever larger share of personal and national incomes.

Before getting into on how do we manage the incredible cost of expensive health care, I would like to discuss, why is it becoming expensive?

I believe that the major reason would be, most people indeed all of us get sick and die, but most of us really don’t want to and also most often the demand for better health often exceeds the availability.

The endless stream of innovation in medical and technology, from new drugs to delicate tools for microsurgery, available technologies such as magnetic resonance imaging, computed tomography, angioplasty, positron emission tomography, and radiation oncology etc, have contributed to the increase rather than reducing health care expenditures. Technical innovations are believed to lower the costs, but it is not the fact. There are modern facilities, equipment and procedures that help improve & extend our lives & they also have a tremendous effect on the price we pay.

The other primary reason could be a massive expansion of medical insurance, beside that medical lawsuits and medical drug research also greatly add to the expense of health care.

The advances in medical field have greatly improved the outcomes of complex procedures in saving many lives, but are they affordable by all the people? Poor people are still struggling to achieve good health.

What are the alternatives that we can think of to accomplish good health with this scenario of raising cost? Before ending this question I must add a statement, alternatives need not have to fulfill all the downsides, rather if we are successful in attaining stability against few problems would make lot of distinction.

Few points that I can think of, which we can easily adopt or recommend for implementing are listed below:

  • Encourage people to have their health insurance
  • Be Healthy, Quit smoking, exercise more and lose weight
  • More medical health programs should be promoted by the government in providing medical care for the aged and needy
  • Support consumer-directed health plans
  • Look for valuable free or low-cost programs like yoga that can help cut costs and avoid trips to the doctor
  • Avoid Unnecessary Medical Tests; make sure doctors are ordering tests for the right reasons so on…

A ‘Good Health’ is a need that we always desire to achieve, but some of us fail to reach in some instances only due to the expenditure involved in it. We can always try to prevail over the troubles to some extent. We all should support and implement ourselves with good lifestyle which can help us to lead our life healthy despite of raising cost of health care.