Commercial vaccines leapt toward state-of-the-art on July 8 when the USDA granted a license for the world’s first DNA vaccine for any species. This equine vaccine springs from more than four years of collaborative research between Fort Dodge Animal Health and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Fort Dodge, CDC, and the USDA jointly announced the achievement on July 18. The West Nile virus (WNV) vaccine, West Nile-Innovator DNA, should arrive on the market in early 2006.

“This is the first DNA vaccine approved by any regulatory authority in the world for commercial sales rather than just for experimental usage, laboratory studies, and scientific paper publication,” says Steve Chu, DVM, PhD, senior vice president of Global Research and Development at Fort Dodge.

A DNA vaccine for salmon protecting against infectious haematopoietic necrosis virus gained approval in Canada about a week after the Fort Dodge vaccine was approved.

According to Chu, the collaboration between Fort Dodge and CDC began officially in 2001, but it was brewing shortly after the disease was discovered in the United States. The CDC has led the basic research on the initial prototype DNA vaccine, while Fort Dodge has led the DNA vaccine development work and the USDA registration studies.

With a conventional vaccine, killed or weakened viral proteins are put in a product as antigens, and the vaccinated animal creates an immune response to the protein antigens to become protected. With a DNA vaccine, carefully selected small pieces of the virus’ genetic material are given to the animal, and they are taken up by its cells. Inside the cells, the DNA fragments are processed into RNA, then into proteins, which are used to stimulate antibodies and a white blood cell immune response. Theoretically, DNA vaccines should have fewer adverse reactions than conventional vaccines. (For more on DNA vaccines, see jQuery(document).on('ready', function ($, document, undefined) { jQuery('.pum-overlay').on('pumInit', function() { // var settings = jQuery('#popmake-60448').data('popmake'); console.log('pumInit'); }); jQuery('.pum-overlay').on('pumOpenPrevented', '.pum', function () { // var settings = jQuery('#popmake-60448').data('popmake'); console.log('pumOpen prevented'); }); jQuery('.pum-overlay').on('pumBeforeOpen', function () { var $popup = jQuery('#popmake-60448'); // setTimeout(function () { $popup.popmake('close'); // }, 0); // half Second // var settings = jQuery('#popmake-60448').data('popmake'); console.log('pumBeforeOpen'); }); });