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The current flu vaccine is an inactivated virus, the whole virus is first grown in eggs, then it’s inactivated and injected. DNA vaccines are different. Instead of producing the vaccines in eggs, we instead inject a genetic code for proteins from the virus into our own cells. Our cells then read the code and produce the viral proteins, [aka] antigens. When our immune system sees the antigens, it makes immune responses that can protect against influenza infection.
In our paper, we replicated experimentally in monkeys a situation that [was] similar to the 2009 influenza pandemic, where a new strain of influenza unexpectedly emerged and current vaccines offered little or no protection, we vaccinated the monkeys with the same antigens included in the inactivated vaccine that year, but then also added, via our DNA vaccine, the genetic code for conserved influenza antigens. When we challenged the monkeys with the 2009 pandemic strain of influenza, we saw significant protection in the group that got the vaccine. They experienced only a transient low infection that was quickly cleared, when compared to the group that didn’t get the vaccine.
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