Scientists from the Wistar Institute have developed and tested the first synthetic DNA vaccine against the Powassan virus (POWV). The vaccine targets portions of the virus envelope protein.
According to News-medical.net, POWV is an RNA virus from the flavivirus family, similar to the Zika virus, but transmitted to humans by ticks rather than mosquitoes. This virus can cause abnormalities in the nervous system, as well as lead to the development of encephalitis and meningitis.
About 10% of those infected can die from complications due to these conditions. Symptoms of infection, including fever, body aches, skin rashes, and headaches, may appear at any time during the 1-4 week incubation period.
There are currently no vaccines and methods available to treat or prevent this viral infection. The new synthetic DNA vaccine is a real breakthrough, experts say.
The efficacy of this vaccine was evaluated in pre-clinical studies, which showed that a single immunization caused extensive T and B cell immune responses in mice. The effect was comparable to that naturally occurring in people infected with POWV. The immunity induced by the vaccine provided reliable protection to the animals.