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Hybrid Delivery System Boosts DNA Vaccines Potential

In Emerging Markets, Featured on App, Flu, Prophylactic Vaccines by Vaccine Nation (Cameron Bisset)1 Comment

Researchers at the University at Buffalo have developed a hybrid delivery system designed to fight cancer, HIV, flu, and other diseases

Scientists from the University at Buffalo have created a novel hybrid system designed to deliver genetic antigens and elicit a strong immune response in patients, something DNA vaccines have so far failed to deliver. The hybrid, presented in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science and described as a “hybrid biosynthetic gene therapy vector development and dual engineering capacity,” brings together two usually distinct technologies to create a hybrid vector: combining a bacterial cell and a synthetic polymer. The result was an immune response greater than both the individual technologies were able to produce in mouse models because of the new technology’s ability to deliver the DNA to antigen-presenting cells.

Lead author Assistant Professor Blaine Pfeifer of the Department of Chemical and Biological Engineering suggests that “the technology that we’re developing could help take immunization to the next level… By improving the delivery of DNA vaccines, we can potentially harness the human immune system in new ways to fight everything from the flu and herpes to HIV and cancer.” Whilst the study’s first author, PhD candidate Charles Jones adds that the team are “also determined that [their system is] relatively inexpensive to create and flexible in terms of use.”

Unlike most vaccines which use a weakened or dead version of a virus, DNA vaccines use just a couple of genes from a disease. when injected these genes are processed by the body’s immune cells, which thus causes the production of antigens which will then proke and immune respnse from the body capable of eliminating the disease. As the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) puts it,  this is essentially turning the body’s own cells into a ‘”vaccine-making factories that create the antigens necessary to stimulate the immune system.”

DNA vaccines have traditionally failed to elicit strong enough immune responses in clinical testing. It is thought that this is down to vaccines failing to get enough of the DNA to antigen-producing cells, instead spreading the DNA across many different cells. This new hybrid delivery system however has demonstrated “ increased in vitro gene delivery beyond individual vector components or commercially available transfection agents. Furthermore, the hybrid device demonstrated a strong, efficient, and safe in vivo humoral immune response compared with traditional forms of antigen delivery.

Read the press release here.

Image: Erik Schepers

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