Graduation Year


Document Type




Degree Granting Department


Major Professor

Richard Heller

Co-Major Professor

Kenneth Ugen


Bacillus Anthracis, DNA Vaccine, Electroporation, Hepatitis B Virus, Intradermal


Current progress in the development of vaccines has decreased the incidence of fatal and non-fatal infections and increased longevity. However, new technologies need to be developed to combat an emerging generation of infectious diseases. DNA vaccination has been demonstrated to have great potential for use against a wide variety of diseases. Alone, this vaccine technology does not generate a significant immune response for vaccination, but combined with delivery by electroporation (EP), can enhance plasmid expression and immunity against the expressed antigen. Most EP systems, while effective, can be invasive and painful making them less desirable for use in vaccination. Our lab recently developed a non-invasive electrode known as the multi-electrode array (MEA), which lies flat on the surface of the skin without penetrating the tissue. This study evaluated the use of the MEA for the development of DNA vaccines. We assessed the appropriate delivery conditions for gene expression and the development of humoral immunity. We used both B. anthracis and HBV as infectious models for our experiments. Our results indicated that the MEA can enhance gene expression in a mouse model with minimal to no tissue damage. Optimal delivery conditions, based on generation of antibodies, were determined to be 125-175V/cm and 150ms with 200ug and a prime boost protocol administered on Day 0 and 14. Under these conditions, end-point titers of 20,000-25,000 were generated. Neutralizing antibodies were noted in 40-60% of animals.

Additionally, we utilized a guinea pig model to assess the translation potential of this electrode. The plasmid encoding HBsAg, pHBsAg, was delivered intradermally with the MEA to guinea pig skin. The results show increased protein expression resulting from plasmid delivery using the MEA as compared to injection alone. Within 48 hours of treatment, there was an influx of cellular infiltrate in the experimental groups. Humoral responses were also increased significantly in both duration and intensity as compared to the injection only groups. Results from both experimental models demonstrate that protective levels of humoral immunity can be generated and that this electrode should translate well to the clinic.