SARS, avian flu, Ebola – outbreaks of deadly viral infections are becoming increasingly frequent. And we still don’t have vaccines for many of the pathogens responsible. One of the most dangerous classes of viral diseases is the zoonosis, which can be transmitted from animals to humans with sometimes fatal consequences.
One of these is caused by the West Nile virus (WNV), which was first identified in Uganda in 1937. The virus was carried to the United States in 1999 and had spread through the whole of North America within five years. There is now a risk that it will propagate worldwide. Since its first appearance in the United States, around 400 people have died there after coming into contact with the West Nile virus. A new vaccine promises to provide protection.
Scientists at the Fraunhofer Institute for Cell Therapy and Immunology IZI in Leipzig have developed the DNA vaccine. “In this type of vaccine, DNA molecules known as plasmids extracted from the pathogen are used for inoculation, instead of the whole virus. They contain the genetic code for the antigens that stimulate the body to produce antibodies. We can thus replicate the virus’s natural infection route without actually triggering the disease,” explains Dr. Matthias Giese, the IZI’s head of vaccine development. Conventional methods of vaccination involve injecting a dead or weakened form of the pathogen into the patient’s body, which responds by producing the corresponding antibodies and developing immunity to the disease. An alternative is to inject a serum that already contains these antibodies. Such vaccines are merely preventive. By contrast with live vaccines, which carry a risk of provoking the disease, DNA vaccines are absolutely biologically safe. Moreover, they activate all existing defense mechanisms in the body, are cheap to produce and can be stored without a refrigerator – which makes them ideal for use in subtropical and tropical climates.
“Since the human immune system is very similar to that of other mammals, we are developing a cross-species vaccine for use in both veterinary and human medicine. And unlike conventional vaccines, DNA vaccines can be used both as prophylactics and as therapeutics, i.e. in cases where the disease is already present,” says Dr. Matthias Giese, citing the further benefits. The WNV vaccine has already passed initial tests. Giese expects the laboratory research to be completed by the end of 2009. After that, another 3 years or so will be needed for the approval procedure including clinical trials. Then, it is hoped, the world’s first therapeutic WNV vaccine will be ready for market.
Dr. Matthias Giese | alfa
Ion treatments for cardiac arrhythmia — Non-invasive alternative to catheter-based surgery
20.01.2017 | GSI Helmholtzzentrum für Schwerionenforschung GmbH
Seeking structure with metagenome sequences
20.01.2017 | DOE/Joint Genome Institute
An important step towards a completely new experimental access to quantum physics has been made at University of Konstanz. The team of scientists headed by...
Yersiniae cause severe intestinal infections. Studies using Yersinia pseudotuberculosis as a model organism aim to elucidate the infection mechanisms of these...
Researchers from the University of Hamburg in Germany, in collaboration with colleagues from the University of Aarhus in Denmark, have synthesized a new superconducting material by growing a few layers of an antiferromagnetic transition-metal chalcogenide on a bismuth-based topological insulator, both being non-superconducting materials.
While superconductivity and magnetism are generally believed to be mutually exclusive, surprisingly, in this new material, superconducting correlations...
Laser-driving of semimetals allows creating novel quasiparticle states within condensed matter systems and switching between different states on ultrafast time scales
Studying properties of fundamental particles in condensed matter systems is a promising approach to quantum field theory. Quasiparticles offer the opportunity...
Among the general public, solar thermal energy is currently associated with dark blue, rectangular collectors on building roofs. Technologies are needed for aesthetically high quality architecture which offer the architect more room for manoeuvre when it comes to low- and plus-energy buildings. With the “ArKol” project, researchers at Fraunhofer ISE together with partners are currently developing two façade collectors for solar thermal energy generation, which permit a high degree of design flexibility: a strip collector for opaque façade sections and a solar thermal blind for transparent sections. The current state of the two developments will be presented at the BAU 2017 trade fair.
As part of the “ArKol – development of architecturally highly integrated façade collectors with heat pipes” project, Fraunhofer ISE together with its partners...
19.01.2017 | Event News
10.01.2017 | Event News
09.01.2017 | Event News
20.01.2017 | Awards Funding
20.01.2017 | Materials Sciences
20.01.2017 | Life Sciences