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Virus Genes. 1998;17(3):219-32.

DNA-antiviral vaccines: new developments and approaches--a review.

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Boehringer Ingelheim Vetmedica, International Division D-55216, Ingelheim/Rhine.


Current vaccines can be divided into "live," "recombinant" and "killed" vaccines. Live vaccines are traditionally composed of attenuated viruses or bacteria, selected for their reduced pathogenicity. Recombinant vaccines, driven by a viral or bacterial vector express foreign antigens, or only recombinant proteins injected as antigen. Killed vaccines consist of inactivated whole pathogens. But all these traditional vaccines have some disadvantages: Attenuated live vaccine are able to undergo mutation and as mutated viruses or bacteria can now provoke the diseases against which the vaccine should protect the organism. A further disadvantage of live vaccines is the possibility of shedding which is a real problem especially in veterinary medicine. Clearly, there is a need for better vaccines to protect against diseases without the disadvantages associated with vaccines presently in use. Modern vaccines might be characterized as safe, no risk of reversion to pathogenicity, and they should be stable without the necessity of a "cold chain." Production should be simple, standardized and inexpensive. Vaccine development has now been improved by the ability to use direct inoculations of plasmid DNA encoding viral or bacterial proteins. One of the major benefits of DNA-vaccines, variously termed "DNA-, genetic- or nucleic acid-immunization," is the endogenous synthesis of the encoded protein. Therefore DNA vaccines mimic natural infection and provoke both strong humoral and cellular immune response. This review summarizes new developments and approaches of DNA vaccination and explains the construction of expression plasmids as well as possible mechanisms of immune responses.

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