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DNA vaccine delivery method less painful

FORT DETRICK, Md., June 2 (UPI) -- U.S. army scientists say one of the newest DNA vaccine delivery methods relies on technology known as the "gene gun," which is less painful then needles.

Connie Schmaljohn, senior research scientist at the U.S. Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases, told "Armed with Science: Research and Applications for the Modern Military" listeners during an audio Web cast that DNA offers a number of advantages over conventional vaccine approaches, especially with regard to biodefense vaccines, the American Forces Press Service reported.

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"The DNA is first coated onto very, very tiny gold beads, and those gold beads with the DNA are then put inside of a plastic device that's about the size of a small flashlight," Schmaljohn says. "Inside that device is also a little canister of compressed helium gas. When the trigger of the gene gun device is pushed, the gas is released and it propels the gold coated with the DNA out of the device into the skin of the vaccine recipient."

Schmaljohn's team isolated small amounts of DNA from the Hantaan and Puumala viruses -- health threats to U.S. troops -- and both vaccines are in phase I clinical testing.

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