In a university ad lauding them for their research awards, Professor Henry Daniell and two of his colleagues (Karen Dow, Peter Delfyett) take a victory walk around campus, fist-bumping and giving a thumbs up along the way. According to VOA News, Daniell, from the University of Central Florida, has come up with a way to make inexpensive vaccines that would be affordable for the world’s developing communities. “Scientists inject plants, like tobacco, lettuce or carrots, with vaccine genes. They are then planted in a greenhouse before being crushed and put into capsules to be taken by patients. The method skips a number of traditional processes involved in producing the therapeutic proteins needed to make vaccines—cutting the price of the final product.” (VOA)
Motivated to work on the vaccines by seeing the impact of diseases like cholera and amebiasis in his native India, Daniell has created vaccines for those diseases as well as anthrax, plague and rotavirus. The next stage is human clinical trials. Thanks to his anthrax vacine, which earned him a congratulatory call from the Director of Homeland Security, his bioterrorism vaccines “are on fast track approval” for the trials. The professor is also working on vaccines for tuberculosis, malaria, hepatitis and diabetes.
In an interview with the Discovery Channel—“Turning tobacco into the tonic that ails you”—Daniell discusses his vaccine work with tobacco plants. The interview mentions that the professor’s work is not funded by the tobacco industry, and that the vaccine is not delivered through smoking.