Can tobacco plant stub out terror threat?
THE nightmare scenario of terrorists adding lethal toxins to water supplies could be countered by synthesising antidotes in genetically modified plants. Christopher Hall and his colleagues at the University of Guelph in Ontario, Canada, have equipped tobacco plants with an extra gene to make antibody fragments against botulinum A, which is produced by Clostridium botulinum bacteria and is one of the world’s most potent toxins. Just 1 to 2 hectares planted with the tobacco would yield enough antibody to treat 1 million people, says Hall, whose team’s results are published online in Vaccine (DOI: 10.1016/j.vaccine.2005.11.014). But for an antidote to be truly effective,