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DNA Vaccines

A number of diseases which have previously plagued modern society, such as polio and diphtheria, are all but a thing of the past now due to the development of vaccinations. That said, all over the globe diseases which can be vaccinated for still cause death to millions of people. This is due, in part, to the lack of administrable, suitable therapeutic methods. The world became terribly aware of such desperate demand of suitable therapeutic methods with the 2009 pandemic A1/H1N1 influenza virus generated as a result of the reassortment of the influenza strains which killed thousands of people around the world. Consequently, new technologies that are able to respond quicker and are able to be developed faster for new vaccines are desperately required.

DNA vaccines based on plasmid DNA (pDNA) offer such an opportunity. Where once time of development and production was a major hurdle, pDNA vaccines offer an avenue of unprecedented speed. DNA vaccines differ fundamentally from conventional virus-based vaccines. Their manufacturing process does not rely on chicken eggs or other time- and labour-intensive cell culture processes that require vaccine-specific facilities. Rather, pDNA vaccines are produced through rapid and reliable bacterial fermentation.

The inherent stability of DNA does not require the precise temperature control needed for conventional vaccines, and allows for greater flexibility in shipping and storage, a major hurdle for delivery of prophylactic vaccines to developing countries. These factors have rendered the plasmid DNA to gain enormous interest in therapeutic applications. This exponentially expanding interest has been demonstrated by the increase in number of patents in the area of DNA vaccine (from 1 in 1990 to 791 in 2009 according to SciFinderand 1949 according to US patent and trademark office, accessed on 20th March 2012.