Tuesday March 19, 2019
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Novel Synthetic DNA Vaccines Safe To Use Against Ebola: Scientists

While there are no licensed treatments available for Ebola virus disease yet, multiple experimental therapies are being developed.

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Ebola, UNICEF. congo, DNA
A Congolese health worker administers Ebola vaccine to a woman who had contact with an Ebola sufferer in the village of Mangina in North Kivu province of the Democratic Republic of Congo

Scientists, including one of Indian-origin, have found that the novel synthetic DNA vaccine is safe against Ebola virus and offers a long-term alternative to traditional vaccines.

The team, from The Wistar Institute in Philadelphia, US, optimised a shorter, dose-sparing, immunisation regimen and simplified vaccine that can be directly administered into the skin. They targeted a virus surface protein called glycoprotein.

This new approach induced rapid and protective immunity from virus challenges.

Importantly, the approach showed strong immune responses one year after the last dose, supporting the long-term immunogenicity of the vaccine — a particularly challenging area for Ebola vaccines.

Ebola, UNICEF. congo, DNA
A boy runs past a dispenser containing water mixed with disinfectant, east of Mbandaka, DRC. VOA

“Synthetic non-viral based DNA technology allows for rapid vaccine development by delivery directly into the skin, resulting in consistent, potent and rapid immunity compared to traditional vaccine approaches,” said lead researcher David B. Weiner, Director of Wistar’s Vaccine and Immunotherapy Center.

“An anti-Ebola virus DNA vaccine like this may provide an important new tool for protection, and we are excited to see what future studies will unveil,” he added.

In the study, published in the Journal of Infectious Diseases, the team detected antibody levels were equal or higher to those reported for other vaccines currently being evaluated in the clinic.

“The success of intradermal delivery of a low-dose regimen is very encouraging,” said Ami Patel, Ph.D., associate staff scientist in the Weiner Lab. “The ultimate goal of our work is to create effective and safe vaccines that are optimised for field use in at-risk areas.”

Ebola, UNICEF. congo, DNA
Photo taken Sept 9, 2018, shows health workers walking with a boy suspected of having the Ebola virus at an Ebola treatment centre in Beni, Eastern Congo. VOA

Ebola virus disease is a serious and often fatal illness that can cause fever, headache, muscle pain, weakness, fatigue, diarrhoea, vomiting, stomach pain and haemorrhage (severe bleeding).

First discovered in humans in 1976 in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, the largest outbreak occurred in West Africa from 2014 to 2016, which claimed more than 11,000 lives, according to the World Health Organization.

Also Read: Ebola Increases The Number of Orphans in DRC: UNICEF

The death rate is about 50 per cent and the virus is spread by contact with contaminated body fluids, including blood and semen.

While there are no licensed treatments available for Ebola virus disease yet, multiple experimental therapies are being developed. (IANS)

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Amazing Fact! Your Genes Determine Your Quality of Sleep

"Our study suggests that many of the genes important for sleep in animal models may also influence sleep in humans and opens the door to better understanding of the function and regulation of sleep," Dashti added.

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This was comparable to other well-recognised factors that influenced sleep duration. Pixabay

Experiencing problems like insomnia or hypersomnia could be genetic, say researchers who identified 76 new gene regions associated with the time a person sleeps.

It is well known that regularly getting adequate sleep — 7 to 8 hours per night — is important for health, and both insufficient sleep — 6 or fewer hours — and excessive sleep — 9 hours or more — have been linked to significant health problems.

Family studies have suggested that 10 to 40 per cent of variation in sleep duration may be inherited, and previous genetic studies have associated variants in two gene regions with the sleep duration.

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“Our study suggests that many of the genes important for sleep in animal models may also influence sleep in humans and opens the door to better understanding of the function and regulation of sleep,” Dashti added. Pixabay

The study from the Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) in Boston, US, analysed genetic data from more than 446,000 participants, who self-reported the amount of sleep they typically received.

The study identified 78 gene regions — including the two previously identified — as associated with sleep duration.

While carrying a single gene variant influenced the average amount of sleep by only a minute, participants carrying the largest number of duration-increasing variants reported an average of 22 more minutes of sleep, compared with those with the fewest.

This was comparable to other well-recognised factors that influenced sleep duration.

 

sleep
Family studies have suggested that 10 to 40 per cent of variation in sleep duration may be inherited, and previous genetic studies have associated variants in two gene regions with the sleep duration. Pixabay

“While we spend about a third of our life asleep, we have little knowledge of the specific genes and pathways that regulate the amount of sleep people get,” said Hassan Saeed Dashti from MGH.

“Our study suggests that many of the genes important for sleep in animal models may also influence sleep in humans and opens the door to better understanding of the function and regulation of sleep,” Dashti added.

The study, published in Nature Communications journal, also found shared genetic links between both short and long sleep duration.

Also Read: SpaceX Crew Dragon Capsule Undocks from International Space Station

It also found factors such as higher levels of body fat, depression symptoms and fewer years of schooling, implying negative effects from both too little and too much sleep.

While short sleep duration was genetically linked with insomnia and smoking, long sleep duration was linked with ailments such as schizophrenia, Type-2 diabetes and coronary artery disease. (IANS)