Indian researchers create a Raspberry-Pi-based device to monitor health
So hopes remain high for another kind of nucleic-acid vaccine, one that makes use of DNA rather than mRNA. DNA-based vaccines have most of the advantages of mRNA vaccines, yet they produce no significant side effects-and, crucially, they don't need to be refrigerated. These attributes could make these vaccines a boon to rural and low-resource regions. Inovio is now finishing phase 2 studies that are testing the vaccine's safety and efficacy on relatively small groups in the United States and China, and those results are imminent. Companies such as BioNTech, Moderna, and CureVac were in the midst of testing various mRNA vaccines against other viruses when the COVID-19 pandemic hit. Unlike an mRNA vaccine, which can function in parts of the cell outside the nucleus, a DNA vaccine can function only inside the nucleus. Widespread power outages in Texas halted deliveries and left officials scrambling to administer thousands of doses before they went bad. A vaccine that can be stored at room temperature would avoid these pitfalls and "Greatly facilitate distribution of the vaccine globally," says Ulmer, the former GSK researcher. For Inovio's DNA vaccine, the only side effect is that momentary buzzing twinge at the injection site, says Broderick, the company's R&D head. The upsides of DNA vaccines, plus the ease of manufacturing and its low cost per dose, were enough to convince the DOD to invest heavily in Inovio early in the pandemic.