Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:


In a crisis, creating DNA vaccine could help save lives, slow spread of ’bird flu’


Researchers scrambling to combat a virulent form of bird flu that could mutate into a form easily spread among humans should consider developing vaccines based on DNA, according to British biochemical engineers. DNA vaccines, they say, can be produced more rapidly than conventional vaccines and could possibly save thousands of lives if a global influenza outbreak occurs.

A DNA-based vaccine could be a potent weapon against this emerging threat, particularly if enough conventional vaccine isn’t available, according to Peter Dunnill, DSc., and his colleagues at University College London. However, they caution that any DNA vaccine should only be used as needed to slow the spread of the disease because the technique is largely untested in humans. The analysis appears in the November-December issue of the journal Biotechnology Progress, a co-publication of the American Chemical Society and the American Institutes of Chemical Engineers.

The avian virus, H5N1, has spread among birds throughout Southeast Asia and has been recently detected in Eastern Europe. The virus has killed more than 60 people in Asia since 2003 and forced the slaughter of millions of birds. There are no confirmed cases of human-to-human transmission of this flu, but that could change as the virus continues to mutate, Dunnill says.

If that occurs, current production facilities are unlikely to meet global demands for conventional vaccines in time to avert a pandemic, Dunnill says. But it might be possible to quickly produce a DNA vaccine by adapting the manufacturing processes of selected biopharmaceutical and antibiotic plants in countries such as the United States, China and India.

"A DNA vaccine is not a panacea, however it could be useful if the situation gets out of hand," Dunnill says. "But if we’re going to try it, we need to move. You can’t expect to walk into a production facility, hand over the instructions, and expect them to make it on the spot. It’s going to take some weeks, and we really don’t know how much time we have."

A DNA vaccine could be produced in as little as two or three weeks, Dunnill says. To do it, scientists would create a "loop" of DNA that contains the construction plans for a protein on the outer surface of the H5N1 virus. When that DNA is injected into cells, it would quickly reproduce the protein and trigger immunization in much the same way as a conventional vaccine.

In contrast, producing conventional vaccines from viruses incubated in fertilized eggs can take up to six months, which is too long to effectively prevent an influenza pandemic, Dunnill says.

Although no commercial influenza DNA vaccine is currently available, these vaccines have worked well in animals. However, human trials are still in the early stages so the safety and efficacy of these vaccines isn’t fully established in people. But these trials could be accelerated, Dunnill says, particularly if the H5N1virus eventually causes large numbers of human deaths and out paces the supply of conventional vaccine. In the worst case scenario, he suggests, using a DNA vaccine could be a "stop-gap" measure until enough conventional vaccine is available to corral the pandemic.

Michael Bernstein | EurekAlert!
Further information:

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht How the African clawed frog got an extra pair of genes: Whole genome sequence reveals evolutionary history of Xenopus laevis
27.10.2016 | Hokkaido University

nachricht Mitochondria control stem cell fate
27.10.2016 | Technische Universität München

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Etching Microstructures with Lasers

Ultrafast lasers have introduced new possibilities in engraving ultrafine structures, and scientists are now also investigating how to use them to etch microstructures into thin glass. There are possible applications in analytics (lab on a chip) and especially in electronics and the consumer sector, where great interest has been shown.

This new method was born of a surprising phenomenon: irradiating glass in a particular way with an ultrafast laser has the effect of making the glass up to a...

Im Focus: Light-driven atomic rotations excite magnetic waves

Terahertz excitation of selected crystal vibrations leads to an effective magnetic field that drives coherent spin motion

Controlling functional properties by light is one of the grand goals in modern condensed matter physics and materials science. A new study now demonstrates how...

Im Focus: New 3-D wiring technique brings scalable quantum computers closer to reality

Researchers from the Institute for Quantum Computing (IQC) at the University of Waterloo led the development of a new extensible wiring technique capable of controlling superconducting quantum bits, representing a significant step towards to the realization of a scalable quantum computer.

"The quantum socket is a wiring method that uses three-dimensional wires based on spring-loaded pins to address individual qubits," said Jeremy Béjanin, a PhD...

Im Focus: Scientists develop a semiconductor nanocomposite material that moves in response to light

In a paper in Scientific Reports, a research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute describes a novel light-activated phenomenon that could become the basis for applications as diverse as microscopic robotic grippers and more efficient solar cells.

A research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) has developed a revolutionary, light-activated semiconductor nanocomposite material that can be used...

Im Focus: Diamonds aren't forever: Sandia, Harvard team create first quantum computer bridge

By forcefully embedding two silicon atoms in a diamond matrix, Sandia researchers have demonstrated for the first time on a single chip all the components needed to create a quantum bridge to link quantum computers together.

"People have already built small quantum computers," says Sandia researcher Ryan Camacho. "Maybe the first useful one won't be a single giant quantum computer...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>



Event News

#IC2S2: When Social Science meets Computer Science - GESIS will host the IC2S2 conference 2017

14.10.2016 | Event News

Agricultural Trade Developments and Potentials in Central Asia and the South Caucasus

14.10.2016 | Event News

World Health Summit – Day Three: A Call to Action

12.10.2016 | Event News

Latest News

The gene of autumn colours

27.10.2016 | Life Sciences

Polymer scaffolds build a better pill to swallow

27.10.2016 | Life Sciences

Greater Range and Longer Lifetime

26.10.2016 | Power and Electrical Engineering

More VideoLinks >>>