Tuesday, April 18, 2017

DNA may offer rapid road to Zika vaccine

       The technological advancements of the medical world have expanded and now, mosquitoes can inject humans with genetically modified DNA cells.  The Zika virus, a growing disease,  has transmitted to countries including Africa, the Americas, Asia, and the Pacific; the prime suspect: the Aedes mosquitoes. 
The alarm stems from an epidemic of birth defects in Brazil, which may be linked with Zika virus infection of mothers during pregnancy. It’s worth distinguishing fact from supposition and placing the Zika phenomenon in a broader context.
         A vaccine is play is actually a bit of DNA. Instead of the traditional vaccines using weakened viruses, this new DNA vaccine uses a snip of genetic material.
The DNA vaccine begins with genes synthesized from pathogens,  
inserting them into a circular strand of DNA called a plasmid, make lots of copies and then inject the purified plasmid into a person.
       Some of the DNA travels into cells’ nuclei, where it is used to make messenger RNA. After exiting the nucleus, mRNA helps build Zika proteins, which can form viruslike particles that trigger the immune system to make antibodies. Researchers can tinker with the DNA building blocks in the plasmid, adding bits from other viruses that might ultimately enhance the immune response.


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