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“Tattooing” and efficient delivery of the DNA vaccine in the body

Novel way of DNA tattooing could enhance DNA vaccination (Credit: Christine Daniloff/MIT)Researchers have successfully designed a novel type of vaccine-delivery film that is thought to improve the efficiency of DNA vaccines.

This research has been published online in the journal Nature Materials.

Vaccines are the weakened or dead viruses of a particular disease. These viruses are helpful in increasing immunity against that disease. However, such therapeutic strategy is risky in certain forms of diseases such as HIV.

In this regard, DNA vaccines would have the benefits of safety of vaccination against diseases such as HIV and those vaccines will be more stable and could easily be stored and shipped at room temperature.

Nearly, two decades ago scientists found that DNA coding for viral proteins results in potent immune responses in rodents. Thereby DNA vaccine is thought to be the potent alternative vaccine but the success in human beings has not been achieved yet.

Researchers in this study have developed the vaccine-delivery film with many layers of polymers embedded with the DNA vaccine for eliminating the need for injections.

“You just apply the patch for a few minutes, take it off and it leaves behind these thin polymer films embedded in the skin,” Darrell Irvine, an MIT professor of biological engineering and materials science and engineering, said in a statement.

These polymer films are embedded about half a millimeter deep in the skin, i.e. tattooing, without causing pain in the nerve endings of the dermis. The films degrade upon contact with the water releasing the vaccine in a matter of days or weeks. Upon breakage of the film, the DNA strands remain held with the fragments of the polymer that protects the DNA helping it to get inside the cells.

Number of polymer layers could help to release the required amount of DNA and the rate of delivery could be controlled by considering different water-fearing properties of the films.

Scientists, in this research, have used strands of RNA as adjuvant to provoke inflammation and helping in the recruitment of immune cells to the area.

Scientists have successfully tested the novel method of delivery of DNA vaccine in primates.

“The hope is that that’s an indication that this will translate to large animals and hopefully humans,” Irvine says.


DeMuth, P., Min, Y., Huang, B., Kramer, J., Miller, A., Barouch, D., Hammond, P., & Irvine, D. (2013). Polymer multilayer tattooing for enhanced DNA vaccination Nature Materials DOI: 10.1038/nmat3550

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