A New Breed of Genetically Engineered Vaccines Will Take Control of Our DNA and Minds
Academics say they are close to developing the first vaccine to pacify people in a single jab, while in other circles the military plans to inject troops with gas-propelled, electro-charged DNA.
Dr Robert Sapolsky, professor of neuroscience at Stanford University in California, believes it is possible to alter brain chemistry to create a state of ‘focused calm’.
Professor Sapolsky claims he is on the path to a genetically engineered formula that would remove the need for human beings to feel threatened.
But Professor Sapolsky has observed that, while a zebra will turn off the stress chemicals after escaping from a lion, modern man not only produces too many glucocorticoids in response to everyday alarms but cannot turn them off afterwards.
It would leave you fresher and ready to deal with another threat, so you can maintain your drive, but with more focused calm rather than bad temper and digestion.
‘This could change society.’ Professor Sapolsky’s preparatory work was published last October by the U.S. National Institutes of Health.
Meanwhile, the Army’s got a one-two punch to quickly develop inoculations that stave off new dangers. First, they’ll shoot troops up using a “gene gun,” that’s filled with DNA-based vaccines. Then they’ll follow it up with “short electrical pulses to the delivery site.”
In a small business solicitation released last week, the Army put out a call for “Multiagent Synthetic DNA Vaccines Delivered by Noninvasive Electroporation.” The program would start by transforming conventional development methods, like standard egg-based vaccines.
The old-school methods are slow, don’t allow for readily combined vaccines, and can pose sterility risks. DNA-based vaccines, on the other hand, would be quick to engineer and offer reliable immunity — provided the DNA can enter host cells to trigger the production of immunity proteins.
Right now, DNA-based vaccines are injected into muscles, meaning a genetically engineered plasmid is delivered to “intracellular spaces,” and “is not efficiently taken up by the host cells.” So the Army would instead like to shoot people. Seriously.
In its solicitation, the Army says it wants DNA vaccines that are painted onto microscopic beads, then “deposited into skin cells by gas propulsion.” And since that method can only inject a small dose of DNA, they want researchers to combine the approach with intramuscular electroporation, which “involves injecting the DNA then quickly applying short electrical pulses.” The electric charge creates pores in cell membranes, making it easier for DNA to enter targeted cells.
Current approaches to intramuscular electroporation are invasive, and, obviously, they hurt. One study in rats also noted the “possibility of low and transient tissue damage induced by electroporation.” The Army wants a gadget that doesn’t rely on jamming needles and electrical pulses into muscle, and instead are after “injection and noninvasive electroporation [that] can be performed using a single integrated device.”
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