Vaccination in utero may cut vertical transmission
- By: Abi Berger
Vaccination in utero may reduce the vertical transmission of infectious diseases. Canadian scientists have introduced a DNA herpes vaccine into the amniotic fluid of fetal lambs and elicited a powerful immune response to it. Their hope is that this approach may eventually reduce the need for caesarean sections in women at high risk of passing on infections such as herpes and hepatitis to their offspring (Nature Medicine 2000;6:929-32).
Dr Philip Griebel and his team at the Veterinary Infectious Disease Organisation, University of Saskatchewan, sought to develop a DNA vaccine for use in utero that could protect against perinatal infectious diseases - a treatment that would be compatible with the technology already in use, such as amniocentesis. They chose the herpes vaccine because they had used it in previous research, and they chose lambs because their immune system functions are similar to those of humans.
DNA vaccines consist of small non-pathological