After centuries of giving humanity little more than nicotine and death, the tobacco plant may be the wellspring of a revolution in gene therapy.
Scientists are using a modified tobacco virus to deliver delicate gene therapies into the heart of diseased cells, with the potential to treat most cancers, viruses and genetic disorders.
The tobacco mosaic virus, which plagues the plant but is harmless to humans, is hollowed out and filled with “small interfering RNA” molecules, or siRNA, which some scientists consider to be the most significant development in medicine since the discovery of vaccines.
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