Written for the Wall Street Journal by Jerry E. Bishop and Michael Waldholz, the article is entitled New Genetically Engineered Vaccines Aim at Blocking Infectious Disease in Millions.
I stumbled upon this article written way back in 1983. It’s amazing, to see what appears to be a current health issue dating back so far. I was only a fetus at the time!
The article talks about the vaccines “being spurred by major advances in genetic engineering” The ability to manipulate genes and transfer them from one organism to another being called “new found”. The writer goes on to say that “the vaccines represent the first major change in vaccine technology in almost 200 years.”
Instead of using weakened pathogens like viruses and bacteria to make vaccines, the genetically engineered vaccines would use antigens (proteins present on the surface of microbes) to trick the body into recognizing the vaccines active agent as the pathogen itself. The problem with old vaccines is that although it seems simple to weaken or kill a bacteria or virus, it’s actually quiet difficult. Hence why we don’t have a cure for every infectious disease. According to the article there are difficulties in the new engineered method; in that it’s still tricky to identify the right antigens to elicit the appropriate response from the body. At the time, scientists even hoped to create a multi-purpose vaccine that would present many antigens from many different pathogens. However:
“But there is a roadblock instead of using just purified antigens as a vaccine, the New York NIH approach uses a whole virus that has been genetically manipulated to carry “foreign” genes from other viruses it is, in essence, a genetically-engineered organism that would be injected into humans. There already are fears-unfounded-the scientists say- about releasing genetically engineered organism into the environment. Federal regulators are likely to be extremely cautious about using such a vaccine in humans.”