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West Nile Virus May Have Met Its Match: Tobacco 54

An anonymous reader writes in with news about a compound produced using genetically altered tobacco plants that may prove useful in battling the West Nile virus. "Some people think of tobacco as a drug, whereas others think of it as a therapy — or both. But for the most part, it's hard to find people who think of the tobacco plant in terms of its medical applications. Qiang Chen, an infectious disease researcher at Arizona State University, is one such person. His team of scientists conducted an experiment, published today in PLOS ONE, that demonstrates how a drug produced in tobacco plants can be used to prevent death in mice infected with a lethal dose of West Nile virus. The study represents an important first step in the development of a treatment for the mosquito-borne disease that has killed 400 people in the US within the last two years."
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West Nile Virus May Have Met Its Match: Tobacco

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  • Nicotine also helps patients with Parkinsons - maybe it's worth using patches?
    • by mikael ( 484 )

      I would imagine tobacco or nicotine constricts blood vessels, and gives the white blood cells traveling along the lining of those blood vessels more chance of detecting and trapping the West Nile virus particles.

    • kills the virus as well...

      If that were true then coroners wouldn't need to worry about Hep-C. The virus can live on long after the host is dead.

  • Tobacco dust (Score:5, Interesting)

    by flyingfsck ( 986395 ) on Sunday March 30, 2014 @02:48PM (#46615965)
    My father got tobacco dust for free at the local ciggie factory (the owner was a friend) and spread it in the garden to control insect pests.
  • summary so wrong (Score:5, Insightful)

    by danlip ( 737336 ) on Sunday March 30, 2014 @03:26PM (#46616167)

    It wasn't "found" in tobacco, it was inserted into tobacco by genetic engineering. Even by slashdot standards that is a terrible summary.

    • by Soulskill ( 1459 ) Works for Slashdot

      You're right -- I've updated the summary to reflect this.

      • by Anonymous Coward

        But it is still very bad:

        1. Title ("West Nile Virus May Have Met Its Match: Tobacco") is sensationalist (that's why I read the summary—I expected it to be especially bad); it's not tobacco, it's the engineered AB.

        2. Summary still thinks there's something special about tobacco ("Some people think of tobacco as a drug, whereas others think of it as a therapy — or both. But [blah, blah, blah]"). No, it's not tobacco. At least, please shed some light on why the researchers picked tobacco over some m

      • West Nile Virus May Have Met Its Match: Tobacco-Derived Monoclonal Antibodies
  • Nothing new here. I learned from watching Millennium that people of the future must chain smoke in order to stay healthy.

  • Every time I see new construction around here, they put dig some ridiculous pond/hole-in-the-ground for water to go. Except it's way out of proportion to what they're are builing (like 1/5 the constuction size in my area). So lots of still standing ponds and swampy areas. And people wonder why the area has a mosquito problem and then spray poisons to reduce them. Which probably lead to something else.

    I don't even know the point of the ponds, don't see them in Europe at all. Probably something civil eng

    • by LostOne ( 51301 )

      Often, ponds are put in for storm water control. They are often used to store the water until the drainage system downstream has enough capacity to take it away. There are also some potential environmental benefits to having swampy areas (otherwise known as "wetlands"). To top it off, there are all sorts of people who think, "look! a lake! cool!". Of course, they are also great breeding grounds for mosquitos, which is a downside.

    • There are a number of species of small fish that feed on the larvae. Stoking the ponds with these is a well-known method of controlling mosquitoes that's been used for decades. If they're not already being used in your area, it may be that they're not adapted to your climate.
  • I love it when reality flummoxes people by challenging their ideologies. Will the people who object to GMO foods also object if they are used to cure disease? Perhaps not on Slashdot, but I'll bet there will be a number of them elsewhere.

    • Personally I object to the idea of genetically engineering herbicide resistance in food crops for the purpose of spraying more herbicide.

      Work with nature, not against it.
    • The tobacco plant seems to be especially suited to being engineered to produce medications. As we extend GM tobacco to knock out more diseases, it will thus indirectly be beneficial in eliminating superstitious idiots from the gene pool

  • I'm reading this headline as saying that smoking prevents West Nile virus.

    If you don't mind, I think I'll just stop there.

  • "Tobacco is my favourite vegetable" -Frank Zappa
  • Maybe Bob Mcdonnell was onto something after all (it wasn't just the loans and ther ride in the Ferrari, snd the watch...

  • Why do they use GM tobacco? Isn't there a non-drug plant that could be used?

    • The GM is done because that is what provides the cure. Tobacco is used because it produces a large amount of proteins and seeds.
      Proteins are what bind to the disease delivering the cure and seeds are needed to grow enough plants for use.
    • As long as the cells produce a large amount of proteins any plant could be used, but Tobacco has been studied extensively so its easier to modify, also Tobacco already have a negative image so it will not change with the GM. (never mind also that every plant produce potential drugs). Nevertheless the research strikes me as too complicated, they put a lot of effort to explain how their method minimize Antibody dependent enhancement (ADE) but that has never been a problem for WNV or related flaviviruses, onl
  • by guevera ( 2796207 ) on Sunday March 30, 2014 @05:31PM (#46616683)

    About 15 years ago a partner and I did a large-ish scale guerilla-style marijuana grow on timber company land in SE Humboldt County. Spent almost 10 months hiking through dense brush and scrub forest every day, often working or walking along the streams -- prime territory for ticks and mosquitos.

    My partner was a serious hippie. He was vegitarian and ate macrobiotic, grew his own wheat grass, didn't smoke (tobacco, anyway), body was his temple. He got eaten alive. Every day he'd have a half dozen or more ticks take a bite, mosquitos swarmed him every chance they got.

    Meanwhile, I was living on Mountain Dew, McDonalds and Marlboros. Anytime I saw a mosquito I'd light a cigarette and they'd go away. I think I got three tick bites the whole season.

    Of course I was 18 and could get away with it....but still

  • Someone, please tell me the difference between a "food" and a "drug."

    I'll wait.

    Also, who begins a scientific journal article's abstract with an adverb? And then fails to describe the new work until the last sentence of the paragraph?
    • Drugs are more potent.
      • If we lacked food on a regular basis, there would be no need for drugs, as scoring a meal would satisfy our inherent need to overcome challenge.

        Alcohol's value as a social lubricant aside, maybe recreational drugs are what folks do when life becomes too damn easy.

  • Maybe the use of Tobacco is just due to the fact that its genome has been well studied, so it is easy to splice in a gene that produces a desired molecule. The OP did not state that the plant makes the substance on its own, only that it is used as a factory for it. Still, it is possible that a plant that people abuse could also produce other useful substances that used in different ways could be cures for disease.

"Plastic gun. Ingenious. More coffee, please." -- The Phantom comics