Genebased vaccines

Conventional vaccine technology, including the generation of modern recombinant subunit vaccines, has been discussed in Chapter 13. An additional gene-therapy-based approach to vaccination is also now under investigation. The approach entails the administration of a DNA vector housing the gene coding for a surface antigen protein from the target pathogen. In this way, the body itself would produce the pathogen-associated protein. Theoretically, virtually any body cell could be targeted, the only requirement being that target cells export the resultant antigenic protein such that it is encountered by the immune system. Additionally, gene expression need only be transient, i.e. just sufficiently long to facilitate the induction of an immune response. Target conditions for gene-based vaccines thus far having entered clinical trials include malaria, hepatitis B and AIDS.

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