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May 10, 1995

Exciting Potential of DNA Vaccines Explored

JAMA. 1995;273(18):1403-1404. doi:10.1001/jama.1995.03520420011005

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A TOTALLY new step in vaccine development is nearing clinical trials and, if successful, is headed for clinical practice.

The new work may open the way to preventing diseases such as hepatitis C, tuberculosis, malaria, and those caused by the herpes simplex and human papilloma viruses—and even by the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV).

However, influenza is likely to be the first candidate for clinical trial, although it may share primacy with a test of a vaccine against HIV, or perhaps hepatitis B, according to some authorities. The technology has opened the way to what Maurice R. Hilleman, PhD, director, Merck Institute for Therapeutic Research, West Point, Pa, calls "the future of vaccinology."

The new approach involves delivering the gene sequences of the desired antigen into the host by inserting the gene for the antigen via a nonreplicating plasmid vector (JAMA. 1994;271:929-931). This is in distinction to the current approach, which

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