Vaccines are designed to mimic aspects of the microbe they hope the help the body build immunity to. Typically, this means dead or weakened versions of the microbe, or toxins and proteins that mimic its structure. Recently, Arizona State researchers working on DNA nanotechnology came up with a different solution: piggyback vaccines on DNA scaffolding to ensure safe and effective delivery of vaccines only to the appropriate areas within the cell. "The major concern was: Is it safe? We wanted to mimic the assembly of molecules that can trigger a safe and powerful immune response in the body," said Yung Chang, an associate professor in the School of Life Sciences. The team has successfully demonstrated the safety of the concept on rats, and hopes that this form of DNA piggybacking holds great promise. "With this proof of concept, the range of antigens that we could use for synthetic vaccine develop is really unlimited."
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