AgriStar Inc., an international agricultural biotechnologycompany, announced Friday that it has acquired all rightsunder a U.S. patent application and corresponding continuation-in-part application for an edible vaccine.

The edible vaccine project involves inserting antigen genes intovegetables or fruit, which may confer immunological responsesagainst a particular disease after being eaten by people oranimals.

The technology was described in the December 1992 issue ofthe Proceedings of the National Academy of Science in anarticle by AgriStar scientists and scientists from LifeTechIndustries Ltd. of Houston, from which AgriStar acquired thepatent application rights.

Dominic Man-Kit Lam, chairman and chief executive officer ofthe Conroe, Texas, company, said AgriStar is working oncreating an edible hepatitis B virus and has transfected tomatoplants with the antigen.

He envisions newborns leaving the hospital with a pack oftomato juice that could be fed to them once every two weeks.

Growing vaccines also bypasses the expense of the purificationprocess required for injectable compounds, he said.

AgriStar has also developed a patented StarPac system forcloning, micropropagation and preservation of plants and plantmaterials, based on technology using autoclavable membranesystems that are permeable to gas and light but not to liquidsand microbes.

The company focuses on expanding use of its proprietarymembrane technology and developing strategic alliances forestablishing micropropagation centers around the world. It cannow offer plants in North America, South America and Asiathrough domestic operations, an Asian subsidiary and foreignlicensees.

-- Nancy Garcia Associate Editor

(c) 1997 American Health Consultants. All rights reserved.