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Jill Sederstrom is a Contributing Editor
Combination live attenuated and DNA vaccine development could simplify vaccine production, lowering costs.
A new vaccine platform in the early stages of testing could cut the cost of vaccine production and storage by 80%, according to research from the University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston.
Researchers combined the use of live-attenuated and DNA vaccine development to create a live-attenuated Zika vaccine in DNA form. The vaccine stimulates production and protective immunity within a patient's cells.
This method differs from traditional vaccine production, which relies on vaccines being produced in cell culture or eggs, according to a statement from the university.
"The simplicity and low cost of our technology will make vaccination much more accessible in developing countries," Pei-Yong Shi, PhD, the lead scientist in the study told Drug Topics.
He said the advantages of the DNA vaccine platform is that there is no requirement for refrigeration of the vaccine before it is used, eliminating the "cold chain" that can contribute to 80% of vaccine cost.
"Because DNA molecules are shelf stable, the vaccine will not expire at warm temperatures and could be stockpiled at room temperature for years," the statement said.
This method also gives full protection with a single shot, which Shi told Drug Topics could significantly reduce the number of immunization visits to clinics.
"These advantages make our technology much less expensive and more accessible to populations living in remote areas," Shi said, who is also an I.H. Kempner professor of human genetics at the university.
Researchers tested the effectiveness of the Zika vaccine they created using the DNA platform in mice. They discovered that the vaccine protected the mice who received it from the Zika virus infection, mother-to-fetus transmission during pregnancy, and male reproductive tract infection.
"Our current results from mice experiments indicate the DNA vaccine has efficacy equivalent to the traditional vaccine," Shi said. The group will continue to test the vaccine's safety and efficacy in nonhuman primates before advancing it to human clinical trials.
Shi believes if the success of the research continues, the vaccine DNA platform could ultimately be applied to many other virus vaccines significantly reducing the costs of vaccine production and storage.