Find Information About:

Drugs & Supplements

Get information and reviews on prescription drugs, over-the-counter medications, vitamins, and supplements. Search by name or medical condition.

Pill Identifier

Pill Identifier

Having trouble identifying your pills?

Enter the shape, color, or imprint of your prescription or OTC drug. Our pill identification tool will display pictures that you can compare to your pill.

Get Started

My Medicine

Save your medicine, check interactions, sign up for FDA alerts, create family profiles and more.

Get Started

WebMD Health Experts and Community

Talk to health experts and other people like you in WebMD's Communities. It's a safe forum where you can create or participate in support groups and discussions about health topics that interest you.

  • Second Opinion

    Second Opinion

    Read expert perspectives on popular health topics.

  • Community


    Connect with people like you, and get expert guidance on living a healthy life.

Got a health question? Get answers provided by leading organizations, doctors, and experts.

Get Answers

Sign up to receive WebMD's award-winning content delivered to your inbox.

Sign Up

Children's Vaccines Health Center

Font Size

Vaccine Cuisine Could Soon Grace Your Table


It won't take years to grow orchards in all cases. One firm -- Large Scale Biology Corp. -- already has built a factory capable of processing three tons of plant material per hour. "Plants will grow anything," Koprowski says. "The state of the art is that a large number of labs all over the world" are trying to use plants to produce a lot of vaccines, hormones, cancer fighting substances, and blood products. In 10 years you will have a lot of plant-derived human products available, predicts Koprowski.

Koprowski has worked with a Polish research team that has grown a vaccine against the hepatitis B virus in lettuce. After eating the lettuce, the immune systems of human volunteers started fighting the hepatitis B virus, which causes severe and sometimes fatal liver disease.

Another exciting product is a vaccine that would be used to treat patients with incurable leukemia, a form of blood cancer. Renowned cancer specialist Ronald Levy, MD, chief of the division of oncology at Stanford University in Palo Alto, Calif., developed the vaccine and hopes to begin human tests of the plant product this fall. Because of differences in the tumors between leukemia patients, each vaccine will have to be individualized. Making such a vaccine with conventional techniques takes the better part of a year -- but it takes only six to eight weeks to produce it in a tobacco plant.

"We've been doing clinical trials for about 10 years now, producing [the vaccine] in a variety of ways," Levy tells WebMD. "The plant system has the potential advantage of convenience, simplicity, and perhaps even [strength]."

The strength of the vaccine is a major issue and is one reason why scientists continue to seek plant vaccines that can be eaten, unlike those produced by a tobacco plant, which presumably would have to be inhaled. Oral vaccines stimulate different kinds of immune system responses than their injectable cousins -- and these kinds of immunity can protect the membranes of the nose and mouth where most germs, including RSV, first enter the body.

One of the main goals of Buetow's team is the creation of a vaccine that is affordable for poor nations. "It should be readily adaptable to almost any place that needs it," he says. "That would take care of any problems with shipping -- just grow it locally."

Today on WebMD

Baby getting vaccinated
Is there a link? Get the facts.
syringes and graph illustration
Get a customized vaccine schedule.
baby getting a vaccine
Know the benefits and the risk
nurse holding syringe in front of girl
Should your child have it?

What To Know About The HPV Vaccine
24 Kid Illnesses Parents Should Know
Nausea and Vomiting Remedies Slideshow
Managing Immunization Schedules For Kids

Doctor administering vaccine to toddler
gloved hand holding syringe
infant receiving injection

WebMD Special Sections