I am not a vaccine skeptic. I think that most of our vaccines are safe enough for widespread utilization as long as they don’t do anything stupid during the production process, like contaminate them with squalene or mercury (which they often do, but that’s a topic for another post).
Recently, though, I heard about a new biotech initiative to make DNA-Vaccines. The thought of this makes my blood run cold. They are talking about turning people into genetically modified organisms.
DNA-vaccines are nothing like the vaccines that have been used for the past 150 years.
Regular vaccines inoculate a vaccine-recipient with the same proteins they would be exposed to anyway were they to get infected with the virus in question. DNA vaccines work by altering our DNA, changing us at a cellular level.
The benefit, some argue, would be that the new DNA vaccines could be produced more quickly and provide a longer period of immunity.
Normally, proteins in the vaccine are made in eggs or by genetically modified bacteria. Inoculation then injects these proteins into the interstitial area between muscle cells where they attract the attention of the immune system and trigger an immune response. When we are exposed to the actual infectious organism after a vaccine our immune system already has the antibodies to fight it off.
DNA vaccines require special technology to deliver the DNA not to the interstitial spaces between muscle cells, but into the muscle cell itself. And not just into the cell, but into the cell nucleus. Once the new DNA arrives, the muscle cell will be forced to produce viral proteins—potentially for the rest of your life.
“Extended immunostimulation leads to chronic inflammation” — Neeraj Kumar, M. Sc. Biotech at Kurukshetra University
According to Neeraj Kumar, M. Sc. Biotech, a potential disadvantage is the fact that this “extended immunostimulation leads to chronic inflammation.” In other words, you might develop a serious auto-immune disorder along the lines of lupus, or potentially even a neurologic disorder like myasthenia gravis.
While it’s true that infectious diseases like malaria and TB are widespread and life-threatening and a new technology that might help better defend against them would be welcome, I for one have no interest in signing up to become a GMO product of the Inovio Corporation.
Watch the the first two minutes of Dr. Joseph Kim’s interview, CEO of Inovio Corp, and decide for yourself if he cares more about safety or profits.
Here’s a video produced by Neeraj Kumar, M. Sc. At minute 2:17 he lists the “disadvantages” of this new technology.