World’s first, DNA-based Covid-19 vaccine, made in India

KOMPAS.com – India has approved a new DNA-based Covid-19 vaccine to strengthen the immune system against the SARS-CoV-2 virus. In fact, the ZyCoV-D vaccine is the world’s first DNA vaccine.

Reported by nature, Tuesday (July 9th, 2021), the ZyCoV-2 vaccine has marked a wave of DNA vaccines against various diseases that are currently being tested in clinical trials around the world.

The researchers welcomed the news of India’s first DNA vaccine. Many other DNA vaccines are also being developed.

The ZyCoV-D vaccine is a vaccine that is given without an injection into the skin. In clinical studies, this coronavirus vaccine has been shown to protect 67 percent or protect against Covid-19 symptoms.

Although the effectiveness of the Covid-19 vaccine is not very high compared to many other vaccines, the researchers say this DNA vaccine fact is significant.

India plans to start using the DNA vaccine to vaccinate its citizens this month.

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India’s ZyCoV-D vaccine is the first breakthrough Covid-19 vaccine to use DNA material to fight the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus that causes Covid-19 that has been affecting people around the world for almost two years infected.

The presence of this DNA vaccine, said Peter Richmond, a pediatric immunologist at the University of Western Australia in Perth, is evidence of the principle that DNA vaccines can work and help control the pandemic.

“This is a very important step forward in the fight against Covid-19 around the world because it shows that we have another class of vaccines,” said Richmond.

Almost a dozen DNA vaccines for Covid-19 are in clinical trials around the world, and at least as many will be in early development.

“If DNA vaccines prove successful, this is really the future of vaccinology as they are easy to make,” said Shahid Jameel, a virologist at Ashoka University in Sonipat, India.

DNA-based Covid-19 vaccines such as those developed by India are actually being developed against other diseases as well.

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SHUTTERSTOCK / Chokniti Khongchum Illustration of the Covid-19 vaccine

Pandemic accelerates vaccine development

David Weiner, director of the Vaccine & Immunotherapy Center at the Wistar Institute in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, said the urgency in fighting Covid-19 has accelerated the development of vaccines that use genetic technology, such as messenger RNA (mRNA) and DNA Vaccines.

As is known, mRNA vaccines have been shown in clinical studies to show a strong immune response faster. Currently, these mRNA-based Covid-19 vaccines have been supplied to hundreds of millions of people around the world.

However, DNA vaccines have a number of advantages as they are easy to make and the end product is more stable than mRNA vaccines, which normally have to be stored at very low temperatures.

India’s DNA-based vaccine, the ZyCoV-D vaccine developed by the Indian pharmaceutical company Zydus Cadila in Ahmedabad, was approved by the Indian Medicines Agency on August 20, 2021.

Made in India, this DNA-based Covid-19 vaccine is used for people over the age of 12. The effectiveness of the ZyCoV-D vaccine has an effectiveness of up to 67 percent derived from studies involving more than 28,000 participants.

In this study, the DNA vaccine researchers looked at 21 cases of Covid-1 symptoms in the vaccinated group and 60 people who received a placebo.

How does this DNA vaccine work?

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The ZyCoV-D vaccine contains circular strands of DNA, so-called plasmids, which code for the spike protein of the SARS-CoV-2 virus, as well as a promoter sequence for activating the gene.

Once these plasmids enter the nucleus, they are converted into mRNA, which migrates to the main body of the cell, the cytoplasm, and is then translated into the spike protein itself.

The immune system then responds to the protein and produces immune cells that are adapted to clear out future infections. Usually the plasmid breaks down within weeks to months, but immunity remains.

Weiner said that both DNA and mRNA vaccines have been in development since the 1990s.

However, according to Jameel, the challenge for DNA vaccines is that they need to get into the nucleus, and unlike mRNA vaccines, which only need to get into the cytoplasm.

As a result, DNA vaccines have long struggled to elicit a robust immune response in clinical trials. For this reason, the Covid-19 vaccine has so far only been approved as a vaccine for animals such as horses.

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