Saucy HIV researchers in Novosibirsk, Russia, suggest that an AIDS vaccine may be blooming in your own backyard. Genetically modified tomatoes may prove an edible, low-cost preventive thanks to a newfound protein that spawns HIV antigens when injected into germinating plants.
But garden vaccines aren’t fresh off the vine. Genetically engineered fruits and veggies like potatoes and bananas have long been sought for their cheap costs and easy storage. And researchers at Arizona State University have now freeze-dried and powdered fresh-fruit vaxes to pop ’em into a pill.
The tomato variety has cleared clinical trials for fighting the Norwalk virus, and a hep B potato vax has proved successful in phase-one tests. If all goes well, human trials for a plant-based HIV vaccine could be underway as soon as 2009. Now, that’s what we call a killer tomato.