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Vaccine Roundup

January 13, 2006

In an unusual twist, a bioengineered tobacco plant could save lives in the case of a bioterrorist attack.


Stopping terrorists with tobacco. I’m Bob Hirshon and this is Science Update.

Molecular biologist Henry Daniell at the University of Central Florida has bioengineered tobacco plants that produce anthrax vaccine. Laboratory mice given the vaccine were found to be resistent to anthrax infection. Daniell says a single acre of these tobacco plants could produce enough vaccine to inocculate everyone in the country. The NIH is currently planning human clinical trials for the vaccine.

In other news, a new study published in the journal Cancer Research reports that human breast cancer cells injected into mice grew and divided more quickly when the mice were exposed to artificial light at night. The study may explain why the risk of breast cancer is five times greater in industrial countries, and especially high among female night shift workers. They are looking into whether modified lighting might reduce the effect.

I’m Bob Hirshon, for AAAS, the science society.