Protein booster may lead to shots of DNA.

Position:Vaccination - Brief article

Scientists have discovered a new way to manipulate how cells function, a finding that might help advance an experimental approach to improving public health: DNA vaccines, which could be more efficient, less expensive, and easier to store than traditional vaccines.

This approach improves upon an existing laboratory technique, transfection, widely used to study how cells and viruses work. Jaquelin Dudley, professor of molecular biosciences at the University of Texas, Austin, and her team have developed a method for boosting the amounts of certain proteins a host cell produces when genes are delivered by transfection. Coaxing cells to produce novel proteins, such as those associated with viruses, is a key feature of DNA vaccines. Dudley's method causes cells to produce novel proteins at levels five to 20 times as high as with previous methods.

The researchers suggest that their finding might lead to better DNA vaccines, a relatively new method of vaccination that health specialists say would increase vaccination rates, especially in the developing world. Whereas traditional vaccines train the body to attack viruses by introducing weakened forms of the virus, a DNA vaccine works differently, using a bit of DNA...

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