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    The Building Blocks of Protection: DNA Vaccines

    Next-Generation DNA Delivery Devices

    Courtesy Photo | A number of DNA vaccine delivery devices are in commercial development which have the...... read more read more



    Courtesy Story

    Defense Threat Reduction Agency's Chemical and Biological Technologies Department

    After 15 years and $3 billion dollars, mapping of the human genome was completed in 2003, allowing researchers to identify the entirety of our DNA. This has revolutionized medical care and led to many breakthroughs — but future threats are proliferating as well. To provide warfighters with cutting edge protection, constant innovation for new and improved treatments is required. The Defense Threat Reduction Agency’s Chemical and Biological Technologies Department is doing just that by researching the next generation of DNA vaccines.

    DNA-based nucleic acid vaccines have the potential to become a universal platform solution to viral threat agents. The U.S. Department of Defense is currently developing DNA vaccines to protect against a variety of viral threats including alphaviruses, filoviruses and hantaviruses.

    When DNA vaccines are expressed inside a recipient’s cells, they mimic the viral replication process and trigger a strong protective immune response. While there are many advantages to the use of DNA vaccines including safety, efficacy, cost, ease of manufacture and rapid development, a significant disadvantage is the vaccine must enter the nucleus of a person’s cells in order to be expressed.

    Traditional needle injections are ineffective at delivering vaccines beyond cell walls. Thus, use of DNA vaccines will require specialized devices for effective delivery. Additionally, logistics considerations such as vaccine packaging, storage, transportation, preparation time, potentially austere working environments, and biohazardous sharps disposal must be addressed in order to put effective immunizations in the hands of warfighters.

    A number of DNA vaccine delivery devices are in commercial development which have the potential to overcome these logistical burdens. Several of them will be evaluated by medical personnel at the Delivery of Nucleic Acid Vaccines (DONAVAX) User Feedback Event (UFE).

    The UFE is being co-managed by Ashley Triplett-Smith, Ph.D., Bryan Horner and Markham Smith of DTRA in conjunction with Clare Dawson of the U.S. Army Research, Development and Engineering Command. During the UFE, military medical personnel will have the opportunity to survey a range of next-generation DNA delivery devices on ‘dummy arms’ and evaluate various device parameters, such as ease of use, size, weight and packaging for ease of transport.

    Additional feedback will be gathered on immunization environments, as well as desired device performance and utility attributes in clinical and deployed settings. Results from the survey will inspire the design of next-generation solutions to administer DNA vaccines that meet warfighters’ needs. Devices to be evaluated at the UFE include two electroporators, a needleless jet stream device and an ultrasound device.

    With the advent of synthetic biology and the completion of the human genome project, warfighters could face an uncertain future when it comes to viral threats. DTRA’s innovative efforts will enable warfighters to accomplish their mission safely and effectively.

    DTRA CB POC: Ashley Triplett Smith, Ph.D.; ashley.s.smith44.civ@mail.mil
    U.S. Army RDECOM POC: Clare Dawson; clare.h.dawson.civ@mail.mil



    Date Taken: 10.15.2018
    Date Posted: 10.15.2018 20:07
    Story ID: 296535
    Location: FORT BELVOIR, VA, US 

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