Researchers at the School of Public Health and at Emory University have developed a DNA vaccine proven to protect against measles. This is the most conclusive evidence yet that DNA vaccines may be useful in the fight against human disease. The study's findings can be found in the July 2000 issue of Nature Medicine.
Measles remains a major cause of worldwide mortality, in part because young infants cannot be effectively immunized. Senior author Diane Griffin, professor and chair of Molecular Microbiology and Immunology at the School of Public Health, says, "This is the first step toward developing a new measles vaccine that can potentially be used for immunizing infants in developing countries."
Results of the study show that the DNA-encoded vaccine, which used either of the surface proteins known as hemagglutinin or fusion, provided protection against measles. No adverse health effects were seen as a result of the immunization.
"In the past, vaccines made from inactivated measles virus always carried the threat of causing a severe strain of atypical measles," Griffin says. "But there is no evidence of this problem with the DNA vaccine."
DNA vaccines appear to be a safe and effective alternative in the fight against measles. More research is currently under way to determine if this vaccine can be used on infants.
This study was supported by grants from the National Institutes of Health and the Pasteur Merieux Connaught Fellowship in Pediatrics.