Methods for virus attenuation and the adjuvants used may have changed from time to time over the years, but the principle behind how a vaccine works today has changed very little to how a vaccine worked 50 years ago. Until now, that is.
Microneedle Vaccine Delivery
The concept of using microneedles for vaccine and pharmaceutical drug delivery is nothing new.
The first and most obvious benefit of Microneedles that really got the attention of vaccine producers, was the fact that it bypasses needle phobia.
These microneedle vaccines come in what looks like a small piece of velcro. They are simply applied to the skin, little to no discomfort is felt and people can even self-vaccinate.
In addition to this, vaccines delivered via microneedles produce an equal immune response using significantly smaller doses:
At low dose (1 microg), specific antibody titers from microneedles were one order of magnitude greater than subcutaneous injection and two orders of magnitude greater than intramuscular injection.
Many of the vaccine formulations used for Microneedles do not require temperature controlled environments, thus making distribution a very simple operation:
…many of these technologies are easier to use in the developing world because they use vaccine formulations that don’t require refrigeration and can be administered with minimal training.
The cost savings alone are enough to lure the manufacturers in, but that is far from the only benefit. With virtually no training required for administering, little to no pain felt from the procedure and no temperature controlled storage required, these vaccines can be delivered to your home by companies like amazon.
But if you’re like me, you saw the flaw in this game changing technology, how would you keep a record of who is vaccinated if they could be self-administered?
Fear not, they have this covered!
Luciferase Immunoprecipitation System (LIPS)
The LIPS Assay is a very efficient and affordable way to detect antibody response. To simplify, a reporter Luciferase Enzyme would be administered with the vaccine via the microneedle.
The Luciferase Enzyme emits a luminescent light, this light can be measured and thus give an accurate determination of whether the Vaccine has worked.
These luminescent enzymes originate from marine life, typically two types of shrimps in the abyss and fireflies. Though synthetic alternatives are now available which overcome many of the limitations of naturally occurring luciferase enzymes.
This technology is moving very quickly and the ability to use a smartphone to measure the response from the LIPS technology is already in progress.
We report a smartphone-based device and associated imaging-processing algorithm to maximize the sensitivity of standard smartphone cameras, that can detect the presence of single-digit pW of radiant flux intensity.
The best results were achieved by OnePlus One (android), which was able to detect luminescence from ~106 CFU/mL of the bio-reporter, which corresponds to ~107 photons/s with 180 seconds of integration time. – Nature.com
You don’t need to understand the details, all you need to know is that they are working on this ability right now, oh and ‘Lucifer-ase’, you can’t make this stuff up!
So, we have an easily distributed, easily administered, pain free vaccine. Once administered, thanks to the LIPS technology, we can scan ourselves using our smart phone 2 to 3 days after vaccination to check for positive immune response.
Your smart phone can then produce a unique code based on the results of your vaccine and possibly your biometric ID, send a signal back to the global database to confirm ‘You’re Vaccinated!’.
Ultimately, this is how the likes of people like Bill Gates envisage the future of vaccination. But what most people are not aware of, this envisaged future is just a breath away.
So we’ve tackled the technology used to deliver and verify your vaccination, but what about the vaccine itself?
The principle of DNA vaccination is to inject a genetically engineered DNA replicating a pathogen-specific antigen. The cells in which the GM DNA will be introduced will express this antigen, hence resulting in the stimulation of a protective immune response.
DNA Vaccination works by the transfection of dendritic cells by this genetically modified DNA.
Transfection is a procedure that introduces foreign nucleic acids into cells to produce genetically modified cells.
While typical transfection of cells from plasmid DNA is temporary, it can end up replicating into the genome. Vaccine manufacturers have downplayed this possibility, but the fact is, it’s possible.
Following intramuscular injection, the plasmid that persists is extrachromosomal and integration into host DNA, if it occurs at all, is negligible. However, new technologies for improving DNA delivery could increase the frequency of integration.
Negligible is very different from not at all.
Humans of the future will not be like you or me, they will not be from nature, they will be beyond human.
This I know sounds a little dramatic, but nevertheless it is the imminent reality we are facing. Whether it be through our desire for longer lives, better looks or higher intelligence, eventually it’ll happen, it’ll become normalised and then the human of today will be no more.
I have just touched the surface on new technologies in the pipeline. From magnetic nucleus based synthetic viruses to live programmable DNA, we stand on the precipice of a new world, and I don’t like it.
Please leave your comments below, I really do want to hear what you think about all of this