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June 28, 2000

DNA Vaccine Shown to Fight Measles

Researchers at the Johns Hopkins School of Public Health and Emory University have developed a DNA vaccine proven to protect against measles. This is the most conclusive evidence yet that DNA vaccines may be useful in the fight against human disease. The study's findings can be found in the July, 2000 issue of Nature Medicine.

Measles remains a major cause of worldwide mortality, in part because young infants cannot be effectively immunized. Senior author Diane Griffin, MD, PhD, professor and chair, Molecular Microbiology and Immunology, Johns Hopkins School of Public Health, says, "This is the first step toward developing a new measles vaccine that can potentially be used for immunizing infants in developing countries."

Results of the study show that the DNA-encoded vaccine, which used either of the surface proteins known as hemagglutinin (H) or fusion (F), provided protection against measles. No adverse health affects were seen as a result of the immunization.

"In the past, vaccines made from inactivated measles virus were associated with a severe type of disease called atypical measles," said Dr. Griffin. "But there is no evidence of this problem with the DNA vaccine."

DNA vaccines appear to be a safe and effective alternative in the fight against measles. More research is currently underway to determine if this vaccine can be used on infants.

This study was supported by grants from the National Institutes of Health and the Pasteur MĂ©rieux Connaught Fellowship in Pediatrics.

Public Affairs Media Contacts for the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health: Tim Parsons or Kenna Brigham @ 410-955-6878 or paffairs@jhsph.edu.