A British-based biotech firm called PowderMed Ltd has announced that it has successfully tested a new experimental DNA vaccine for flu in 36 volunteers. The new vaccine is unique in the way that it is not administered traditionally with needles. Rather tiny particles containing the vaccine are blasted into the patients' skin.
The vaccine uses DNA from the flu virus to stimulate immunity. "DNA vaccines have the potential to significantly limit the burden of disease. The advantage of a DNA-based approach is that the vaccines can be manufactured very rapidly and in large quantities, while yielding an efficacious immune response at low doses," said Dr. Clive Dix, chief executive officer of PowderMed.
The vaccine duplicates the gene of the influenza virus or the currently prevailing bird flu virus and encloses it into small gold particles, which are then administered to patients using an injector powered by concentrated helium gas, which helps in pushing the particles beyond the skin.
'Recent years have seen a number of new influenza vaccine approaches tested in animal model systems and in the clinic. However, this study is the first successful demonstration of immunogenicity of an influenza DNA vaccine in humans,' said Dr. Hansi Dean of the International AIDS Vaccine Initiative, who was formerly with PowerMed and was the lead researcher in the study, which tested the vaccine on the 36 volunteers.
The study is published in the journal Vaccine. PowderMed said that it would now conduct bigger tests for its vaccine.