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West Nile Virus May Have Met Its Match: Tobacco

samzenpus posted about 5 months ago | from the smoke-em-if-you-got-em dept.

Medicine 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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Good stuff? (1)

caluml (551744) | about 5 months ago | (#46615927)

Nicotine also helps patients with Parkinsons - maybe it's worth using patches?

Re:Good stuff? (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46615935)

Nicotine isn't what kills the WNV you ignorant clod.

Re:Good stuff? (1)

caluml (551744) | about 5 months ago | (#46615971)

Well, that's what I get for jumping to conclusions!

Re:Good stuff? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46616003)

I was just busting chops, I like being butcher - you know exactly who you are keeeeling. No in seriousness they injected special genes into the tobacco, it's nuts.

It has nothing to do with your kool menthol dermal bodywear, bro.

Re: Good stuff? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46616525)

Lol!

Re:Good stuff? (1)

slugstone (307678) | about 5 months ago | (#46616591)

So you are not new here. Keep up the good work. :-)

Re:Good stuff? (1)

LordLimecat (1103839) | about 5 months ago | (#46618623)

You cant kill a virus, you ignorant clod.

Well, anything that kills the host (1)

Rosco P. Coltrane (209368) | about 5 months ago | (#46615955)

kills the virus as well...

Re:Well, anything that kills the host (1)

mikael (484) | about 5 months ago | (#46616029)

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.

Re:Well, anything that kills the host (5, Informative)

Ferrofluid (2979761) | about 5 months ago | (#46616063)

Jesus, does no one even read the summary? The drug isn't nicotine -- it's a genetically-engineered monoclonal antibody produced by the tobacco.

Re: Well, anything that kills the host (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46616113)

So the nicotine kills the bacteria?

Re:Well, anything that kills the host (2)

FatdogHaiku (978357) | about 5 months ago | (#46616915)

Jesus, does no one even read the summary? The drug isn't nicotine -- it's a genetically-engineered monoclonal antibody produced by the tobacco.

So... This wasn't just a Lucky Strike?

Re:Well, anything that kills the host (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46626961)

score. you took this to another level.

Re:Well, anything that kills the host (1)

CodeBuster (516420) | about 5 months ago | (#46618053)

Genetically modified tobacco? They ought to require a warning label on all products made with this tobacco so that people know that using it is harmful to their health.

Re:Well, anything that kills the host (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46622629)

Tobacco (nicotine), is our first level defense against African-Indian lung parasitosis: dandruff (caspa), tarantulosis and the like. Nicotine is a natural insecticide. Tobacco seems to be a very well defended plant, maybe because it is adapting to combat the tobacco viruses.

Re:Well, anything that kills the host (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46616213)

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.

So... "all or some of this stuff does (some bullshit thing you think is clever because you just binge watched season 3 of House)".

I realize it's a metaphor, but does the brain diarrhea also literally dribble off your fingers as you type?

Re:Well, anything that kills the host (2)

Dcnjoe60 (682885) | about 5 months ago | (#46617515)

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.

Re:Well, anything that kills the host (1)

LordLimecat (1103839) | about 5 months ago | (#46618631)

Thats because viruses arent alive to begin with. Theyre sort of similar to prions in that way.

Tobacco dust (4, Interesting)

flyingfsck (986395) | about 5 months ago | (#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.

Re:Tobacco dust (2)

MightyYar (622222) | about 5 months ago | (#46616059)

Man, those bugs were in flavor country...

Re:Tobacco dust (4, Informative)

HairyNevus (992803) | about 5 months ago | (#46616111)

Yeah the properties that give tobacco, and all plants in the Solanaceae (nightshade) family, their uses as a pesticide [wikipedia.org] are well known. This is different, this is a man-made antibody that uses the tobacco plant almost like a factory to produce it en masse (if I'm reading the mumbo jumbo correct).

Breaking News (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46615967)

This just in: tabacco is deadly.
More at 11.

unprecedented evile has met it's match (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46616031)

momkind our centerpeace. new clear options will help us all feel better soon

summary so wrong (5, Insightful)

danlip (737336) | about 5 months ago | (#46616167)

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

Re:summary so wrong (1)

Soulskill (1459) | about 5 months ago | (#46616485)

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

Re:summary so wrong (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46616777)

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 more commonly used AB producers.

3. "His team of scientists conducted an experiment"—that would not be very significant. They, at least I hope so (didn't RTFA), conducted some research (based on several experiments).

At least I hadn't to read it in beta ...

Re:summary so wrong (2)

P Bacon (3557945) | about 5 months ago | (#46616803)

West Nile Virus May Have Met Its Match: Tobacco-Derived Monoclonal Antibodies

Millennium (1)

eric31415927 (861917) | about 5 months ago | (#46616193)

Nothing new here. I learned from watching Millennium that people of the future must chain smoke in order to stay healthy.

There's too many people on the planet (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46616225)

Let's put them in the planet...

Shouldn't we just have nature do its thing and let them die? Then the survivors can evolve natural resistance without big pharma mucking things up.

Maybe stop making breeding ponds for mosquitos? (1)

rolfwind (528248) | about 5 months ago | (#46616237)

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 engineers instructed townships to do to justify their existence, and it's spreading as township tend to just copy each other.

Re:Maybe stop making breeding ponds for mosquitos? (1)

LostOne (51301) | about 5 months ago | (#46616293)

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.

Re:Maybe stop making breeding ponds for mosquitos? (1)

techno-vampire (666512) | about 5 months ago | (#46616577)

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.

Knew it (0)

oldhack (1037484) | about 5 months ago | (#46616269)

Obamacare needs to cover cigarette.

Some people are going to be conflicted (1)

PapayaSF (721268) | about 5 months ago | (#46616329)

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.

Re:Some people are going to be conflicted (1)

P Bacon (3557945) | about 5 months ago | (#46616917)

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.

Re:Some people are going to be conflicted (1)

Applehu Akbar (2968043) | about 5 months ago | (#46617459)

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

Time to light up (1)

PopeRatzo (965947) | about 5 months ago | (#46616335)

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.

Obligatory Frank Zappa quote (1)

antifoidulus (807088) | about 5 months ago | (#46616343)

"Tobacco is my favourite vegetable" -Frank Zappa

Fmr Gov of VA (1)

rossdee (243626) | about 5 months ago | (#46616571)

Maybe Bob Mcdonnell was onto something after all (it wasn't just the loans and ther ride in the Ferrari, snd the watch...

why tobacco? (1)

someone1234 (830754) | about 5 months ago | (#46616623)

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

Re:why tobacco? (2)

will_die (586523) | about 5 months ago | (#46616689)

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.

Re:why tobacco? (1)

Chikungunya (2998457) | about 5 months ago | (#46618551)

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, only for dengue (and for a reason that is completely absent for WNV). Also, there are several vaccine candidates for humans in trials that are produced by traditional methods much easier to prove safe (inactivated virus vaccines seem to be effective enough). So by the time this GM tobacco antibodies are ready for use most likely the population in risk will be already safe and the only people in need would be those without normal immunity.

Ahhh, blessed tobacco.... (2)

guevera (2796207) | about 5 months ago | (#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

Re:Ahhh, blessed tobacco.... (1)

DigitalHammer (581235) | about 5 months ago | (#46617261)

And you never got Lyme disease? That's impressive.

Re:Ahhh, blessed tobacco.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46621923)

After only three bites? I think you overestimate the prevalence of Lyme disease.

Drug or food? (1)

Sir Holo (531007) | about 5 months ago | (#46616759)

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?

Re:Drug or food? (1)

P Bacon (3557945) | about 5 months ago | (#46616977)

Drugs are more potent.

Re:Drug or food? (1)

rmdingler (1955220) | about 5 months ago | (#46618063)

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.

Re:Drug or food? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46623569)

“Candy is dandy, but liquor is quicker.” http://www.goodreads.com/quotes/35270-candy-is-dandy-but-liquor-is-quicker

Excellent for Bee stings (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46616885)

Wet a little Tobacco and apply it to the sting site, within minutes the pain will be gone.

It's hard to tell (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46617173)

You really never know what is good or bad for you. One day saturated fats are bad for you. The next they're not and it's trans-fats you have to worry about. then you hear aerobics help your heart, followed by 'old man dies at aerobics class'.

So who knows. I'm going to take up smoking, just in case it's good for you. Better safe than sorry. But I won't inhale. Clinton is pretty old, and that's what he did.

ASU (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46617765)

And on a tobacco free campus. *tisk tisk*

The real problem with Tobacco... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46622639)

Isn't tar or nicotine...

Tobacco contains lots of bad stuff (some of which, yes, may be used medicinally, and yes there is statistical evidence of a neuro-protective benefit from tobacco for Parkinsons and maybe other diseases -- none of which are an excuse to smoke).

But the killer in tobacco is radioactive isotopes of Lead and Polonium (maybe all Polonium is radioactive).

Nothing strange about that -- different plants have different affinities for minerals (which is why some vegetables contain more iron, or magnesium or copper, etc. depending on the plant); tobacco has an affinity for minerals that sometimes are naturally radioactive. The problem is greatly exacerbated by phosphate fertilizers which great increase the availability of the radioactive stuff.

The result is smoke contains radioactive particles (alpha emitters) which, when stuck in the lungs, cause local damage. You know what happens after that. This also explains why second-hand smoke is so deadly.

There is nothing speculative or conspiratorial about this. Tobacco companies have known about it for decades, and even devised a way to reduce the problem -- but it increased expense and washed out nicotine, so they choose mass death for profit instead.

Entrepreneur note:. MUCH safer tobacco is possible -- just takes lower crop yields (not using phosphates) and a bit of treatment after. Consider that instead of the next Twitter (speaking of deadly diseases).

  - C

Nothing special, just well studied (1)

bbsalem (2784853) | about 5 months ago | (#46634441)

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.
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