Could a vaccine be created without the use of the actual viruses or bacteria?
The future might belong to DNA vaccines.
DNA vaccines are not a new idea, but remain a controversial one. So why consider it at all?
Playing with live, thought weakened, viruses is in a way like playing with fire. All is good, until things get out of control.
DNA vaccines, as you'd imagine, contain only DNA and not any actual infectious agents. Instead of sending the actual criminal, it's like sending a mugshot only. "Watch out for any guys who look like this." Just like the police, the immune system would receive the mugshot and be ready in case the real criminal showed up. Though, clearly, it's not exactly like that, because there is still the physical presence of the DNA that gets introduced into the body.
Sounds good on paper, doesn't it?
Resulting vaccines should be more stable at a wide range of temperatures and new vaccines could be created faster in response to rapidly emerging new threats.
However, only one DNA vaccine has been licensed for the use in dogs so far, the melanoma vaccine. Why is that?
Perhaps because playing with fire is easy enough, even kids can do it. Starting a fire isn't really the trick, controlling it is.
There is a good reason we don't want our kids play with matches.
The further we move away from the natural—in this case simply meaning "as found in nature"—the further we move into the realm of unpredictability.
The precise metabolic machinery that leads to a favorable immune response is not fully understood.So far, with some modifications, we were really just copying what happens naturally.
There are many variables to be dealt with. So should we really play with things we don't fully understand? Or should we try to get better understanding first?
I think we ought to play, that's how we learn. But let's play responsibly.
Because I don't think that they all do [play responsibly]. Monsanto for one. Let's play and learn but let's not forget Jurassic Park.
Would I consider the melanoma vaccine for my dog?
Yes, I would consider it. Would I consider DNA vaccine against, say, Parvo? No, I don't think I would at this time.
DNA Vaccines: The Future Of Disease Control