German researchers have engineered new low-nicotine tobacco. For this purpose, scientists at the Technical University of Dortmund applied the gene-editing technique on the Virginia tobacco plant and managed to reduce nicotine in it from 400 percent to one percent.
"While each gram of regular tobacco contains 16 milligrams of nicotine, the newly edited version contains only 0.04 percent," said the study's lead author Felix Stehle.
"No one in the world has ever managed to reduce nicotine to this level," he added.
The researchers published their study in the Plant Biotechnology journal.
The tobacco plant is not used to make cigarettes only, but also as a living sample in main research fields.
The researchers explained they used gene cutting to alter the genetic characteristics of this plant. They omitted six genes that play a major role in nicotine production. Although the plant regrouped these genes, it did so in a wrong way, which stopped the production of nicotine. The researchers assured that this process can be used with almost all types of tobacco.
Nicotine is the substance that leads to smoking addiction, in addition to the 4800 substances found in cigarettes, of which 70 substances cause cancer, or suspected to develop cancer.