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volunteers will be vaccinated using an alternative to a needle. Instead, a handheld device will blast harmless, microscopic gold particles coated in the vaccine into the upper arm at supersonic speeds.
DNA vaccines are usually circular plasmids that include a gene encoding the target antigen (or antigens) under the transcriptional control of a promoter region active in human cells. The coding region of the inserted gene is followed by transcription termination and polyadenylation sequences. To permit selection of plasmid-containing bacteria during the production process, the plasmid also contains an antibiotic resistance gene with a bacterial origin of replication. DNA is generally less costly to produce than peptide or protein vaccines, and is chemically stable under a variety of conditions. DNA vaccines are generally administered intramuscularly, using either a needle and syringe or a needle-free injector. DNA vaccines were first tested in human beings with HIV infection,(1) and subsequently in uninfected people as preventive vaccines against HIV(2,3) and malaria.(4) While immune responses to DNA alone have been relatively weak in humans, combination with adjuvants or with recombinant viral vectors in prime-boost approaches have resulted in appreciable HIV-specific CD8 responses(5) and have induced protective responses in primate models (see below).