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October 2005 after the first frost and summer grasses had turned brown.  The growth of winter grasses was delayed by the drought.

Are DNA Vaccines Next?

Column #217

When it comes to discussing genetics most folks have been conditioned to scream and run for the hills. That Pavlov’s Dog reaction was caused primarily by one man who has, at best, very questionable credentials regarding genetics. In spite of a lack of expertise he gained a huge following of promoters who found him useful in their marketing efforts. All that notoriety generated a pretty penny for him in book sales, lectures, and appearances on national television. In the process he created a tremendous amount of confusion, fear, and loathing regarding a highly technical science. Now another new “genetic” product is on the horizon. Will it get a similar treatment that comes with manipulating genes?1 2

This new medical miracle is DNA Vaccines. Soon they will be the medical community’s go-to vaccines. Yes, it’s brand new cutting edge stuff that’s never been done before. Currently, no DNA vaccine has been approved for human use although several are now available for veterinary use. Naturally there’s lots of oversight and several important questions still need answers.

Currently these vaccines are far more effective in test animals than humans. Therefore researchers are seeking a better adjuvant (substance which enhances the human body’s immune response) to an antigen. Additionally more work is needed to complete the origin and the genetic structure of the vaccine. So it may be some months yet before we see a DNA vaccine for human use.3 4

I’ve read quite a bit about DNA vaccines and the literature points to some really space-age type stuff. Unfortunately, most of the literature is very technical and for novice readers it’s like deciphering a doctoral thesis on advanced accounting theory, or the specifics on the inner workings of xenon ion engine design, or directions on how to operate a cell phone. And when it comes to genetics, maybe it’s more complicated than those three subjects combined.

It’s really easy to demonize complicated topics and new innovations. If we step back in time, we discover that things which are old hat today were once feared or projected to fail. There are many examples such as street lights, trains, airplanes, the telephone, automobiles, home computers, electric airplanes, and nuclear power. At one time, stating that the Earth rotated around the sun and was round, not flat, was considered ignorant and/or sacrilegious. So all verdicts regarding DNA vaccines might be best reserved for later.5

The concept of a DNA vaccine really got underway right around 1990 although the work was inspired by experiments dating as far back as 1962. Conventional vaccines, the ones we know today, inject a live or killed virus into a host which triggers the immune system to develop antibodies for the virus. In the simplest terms the new DNA vaccine inserts only the DNA sequence encoding the antigen of the virus against which an immune response is sought. Yes, it’s more complicated than that, yet when the proper procedure is eventually established new DNA vaccines can be developed quickly. That’s because once a toxin is identified, its DNA can be inserted into the vaccine replacing the DNA of another toxin. That’s a quick process which shortens vaccine development down to a matter of weeks rather than months and years.6 7

Will the promise of DNA vaccines overcome the potential risks? What would you think if you found out that compared to today’s conventional vaccines the DNA vaccines will be more stable, cost-efficient, easy to manufacture, and safe to handle? What if they mean we’ll one day have a vaccine that prevents cancer just like the Salk vaccine eliminated polio? Does that pique your interest? I thought it might. That’s why, with about 500 registered clinical trials in the works, breakthroughs are close. The diseases being targeted are mostly cancer and allergies while a lessor number are focused on autoimmune and infectious diseases. With so much activity underway the future potential does look promising.8

Already the naysayers are out in droves with scary stories of genetic manipulation destroying all human life, etc., etc. But for now it’s best to take a deep breath and keep reading up on the progress. Ask questions and seek answers from qualified professionals. You are correct. They do not always get it right. Although, in most cases, teams of professionals are better than a single amateur because they are working with a knowledge base that’s about 40 years ahead of the general public. In this day and age that is a tremendous amount of knowledge about immunology and genetics compared to what a dance instructor might know regarding these specialties.2

To your health.

Ted Slanker

Ted Slanker has been reporting on the fundamentals of nutritional research in publications, television and radio appearances, and at conferences since 1999. He condenses complex studies into the basics required for health and well-being. His eBook, The Real Diet of Man, is available online.

Don’t miss these links for additional reading:

1. Yogic Flying and GM Foods from Academics Review

2. Anti-GMO Former Dance Instructor Jeffrey Smith Writes ‘Scientific Paper’ by Mark Lynas at Cornell Alliance for Science

3. Work on DNA Vaccines Still Has a Way to Go by Jon Kelvey from Genetic Engineering & Biotechnology News

4. DNA Vaccine: Methods and Mechanisms by Saber Soltani, et al.

5. Technologies That Scared the World Senseless by Carrie Marshall

6. The Past, Current and Future Trends in DNA Vaccine Immunisations by Sidgi Syed Anwer Abdo Hasson, et al.

7. DNA Vaccines Explained by Emily Burke, PhD

8. DNA Vaccines—How Far From Clinical Use? by Dominika Hobernik and Matthias Bros