European scientists modify tobacco cells to fight COVID-19
UPDATED 7:38 AM PT — Monday, June 1, 2020
A rising number of European countries are using tobacco products to treat the novel coronavirus. Scientists at the Institute for Plant Molecular and Cellular Biology (IBMCP) in Valencia, Spain are now using tobacco molecules against COVID-19.
Researchers have said tobacco products were found to be highly efficient against a number of viruses in the past, including Ebola. This came after doctors in France found people who smoke cigarettes are less likely to contract coronavirus.
European scientists have said genetically modified tobacco cells can create proteins preventing the virus from entering human cells.
“Plants are very useful for researchers as they are another mean of expressing viral proteins or nucleic acids without having to actually work with the causative virus itself,” explained George Lomonossoff, a virologist at the John Innes Center in Norwich, England. “And we can use techniques of synthetic biology to make things like virus-like particles without handling the infectious virus.”
Scientists added that they are supplying genetically modified tobacco to almost 100 companies working to develop a COVID-19 vaccine worldwide.