DNA vaccine patent awarded to Hattiesburg native

HATTIESBURG, Miss.(WHLT) – Hattiesburg native, Dr. Veronica Scott, has received a patent for a DNA vaccine she’s been working on since 2011.

Scott is a graduate of Hattiesburg High School and Mississippi State University. After she left Mississippi, she went on to the University of Pennsylvania to do further research on vaccines.

While researching, her team designed a vaccine that would provide protection to the United States military if they were ever exposed to toxins.

She says the process of getting a patent for the vaccine has been a long journey.

“The journey of the patent was long. We started the project in 2011. We designed the vaccines and then my part was to prove proof of concept. I had to actually prove that the vaccines work.”

Scott says to prove the vaccine worked, the team “immunized the mice with the vaccine and later challenged them with the neurotoxin, and we found that the mice were protected from 100 times the lethal dose of toxins that we gave them.”

Although Dr. Scott is excited the team has been awarded the patent, she hopes it never has to come off the shelf. She says the vaccine would only be used if a neurotoxin was weaponized.

“The agent itself, the neurotoxin, would prevent the body’s muscles from moving, including the muscles that help us breathe. So the vaccine would prevent this paralysis. So it’s extremely important that we target this bio-terrorism agent in hopes to prevent this disease.”

Scott says she never thought she would work on this type of project and says it’s all a part of “doing her job.”

Her next goal is to work with under-represented youth by encouraging them to learn more about a career in STEM (science, technology, engineering, mathematics).

ng the muscles that help us breathe. So the vaccine would prevent this paralysis. So it’s extremely important that we target this bio-terrorism agent in hopes to prevent this disease.”

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