HNSE-P3-6. Damaging Tobacco Mosaic Virus Using Electrochemistry: A Novel Method to Synthesize High-Quality Vaccines

Angelica Diaz Tremillo1
Kevin Ayala Pineda1
Cory Rusinek, Ph.D.2
Drake Joseph1, 3
Nicholas Pudar4
Faculty Mentor: Michael Pravica, Ph.D.1
1College of Sciences, Department of Physics and Astronomy
2College of Sciences, Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry
3Howard R. Hughes College of Engineering, Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering
4School of Integrated Health Sciences, Department of Health Physics and Diagnostic Sciences
5College of Sciences, Department of Mathematics

As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, it is imperative to develop novel and rapid ways to synthesize highly targeted and effective vaccines. We report a study that tested the effectiveness of using electrochemistry to damage the Tobacco Mosaic Virus (TMV). We hypothesized that by utilizing the acidic properties of DNA and RNA contained by viruses, viral genetic material can be selectively denatured using electrochemistry. We also hypothesized that the viral capsid would be less damaged due to its non-acidic properties and thus the intact capsid could be used as a vaccine vector to promote immune system response. We tested TMV potency by infecting pinto bean seedlings with electrochemically treated and untreated TMV and observed their growth for four weeks. Various spectroscopic techniques such as Nuclear Magnetic Resonance Spectroscopy (NMR) and Ultraviolet-Visible (UV-Vis) Spectroscopy were implemented to assess changes in the electrochemically-treated viruses. Finally, Cyclic Voltammetry (CV) was used to examine oxidative damage in the samples. It was observed that plants infected with electrochemically-treated TMV developed significantly fewer necrotic lesions compared to plants infected with untreated TMV. We also found significant changes in the UV-Vis spectral peaks, NMR spectral peaks, and cyclic voltammograms before and after electrochemical damage. Preliminary results were obtained which suggest that the electrochemical techniques used in this study effectively damaged the TMV virions. Through further testing and improvements, this innovative technique could be used to develop highly targeted and effective vaccines.

This research was funded by UNLV’s TRIO McNair Scholars Institute, which is housed within UNLV’s Center for Academic Enrichment and Outreach and funded under the TRIO Ronald E. McNair Postbaccalaureate Achievement Program by a grant (P217A170069) from the U.S. Department of Education. 


Nov 15 - 19 2021


All Day


HNSE: Poster Session 3
The Office of Undergraduate Research


The Office of Undergraduate Research


3 Replies to “HNSE-P3-6. Damaging Tobacco Mosaic Virus Using Electrochemistry: A Novel Method to Synthesize High-Quality Vaccines”

  1. Hi Angie,

    What a timely and interesting research topic! I’m so glad you’ve started working on vaccine research, and I hope you’ve enjoyed it. I learned a lot from watching your presentation.


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