The medical revolution thanks to DNA technology
The coronavirus pandemic has highlighted the progress of science on a technology that has been studied for many years, mainly in the field of gene therapy, but little communicated to the general public until then, that of DNA technology.
This research, which gained momentum in the 1990s, is based on the use of adenoviruses to treat certain diseases, such as cancer, and develop new vaccines. The principle of adenovirus is to use a virus without an envelope but with a DNA genome.
The use of this gene can be associated with a bacterium that will be injected into the cells of the organism which will allow them to capture this DNA in an efficient way. This injection induces a very strong response from the cells and therefore facilitates the production of antigens and the immune response to fight the virus or the bacteria concerned.
If on the positive side, there are practically no side effects, the downside is that immune responses vary greatly in humans. To trigger the immune response, either known viruses or bacteria are used as vehicles or vectors.
However, the use of an existing virus in the body will trigger a relatively weak immune response since the body already knows how to fight it. In order to circumvent this drawback, research favors the use of vectors for which there is no natural exposure yet or to create chimeric adenoviruses to escape the immune responses of known adenoviruses.
The other difficulty with the DNA process is that the response will, by nature, vary greatly from one individual to another depending on the characteristics of the cells that will receive this DNA, cells that are specific to each of us, and depending on the immune response already present in our body.
Recent research tends to show that the immune response is more effective when the booster vaccines are different from the primary vaccine. Another area for improvement is the use of cells involved in the initiation of the immune response, the dendritic cells.
Certain bacterial toxins have proven to be very effective in stimulating the responses of these cells and thus improving the immune response. It is therefore by improving our knowledge of the immune system and the interaction of vaccines with the innate immune system that it will be possible to improve and stimulate an immune response that is increasingly targeted to the virus that is to be fought.