A plastic film tattooed with DNA coding may be used to replace traditional vaccines for diseases such as HIV.
The effectiveness of DNA coding for viral proteins has been tested successfully in rodents, but no effective delivery mechanism for humans was known.
In a paper appearing in the Jan. 27 online issue of Nature Materials, MIT researchers describe a new type of vaccine-delivery film that they feel could work and overcome risks associated with use of viruses to vaccinate against some diseases. The new system would also be more stable than vaccines consisting of inactivated viruses that prompt the immune system to defend against it. That approach is considered potentially dangerous with viruses such as HIV.
Film-based vaccine delivery would also eliminate the need to inject vaccines by syringe, says Darrell Irvine, an MIT professor of biological engineering and materials science and engineering. "You just apply the patch for a few minutes, take it off and it leaves behind these thin polymer films embedded in the skin," he says.