A group of German Researchers have found a medical benefit associated with a tattoo rather than just being popular as a fashion statement. According to an article published in the online open access journal, “Genetic Vaccines and Therapy”, it has prospective medical value.Martin Müller and his team working in one of the ‘German Cancer Research Centers’ in Heidelberg, Germany, have found that tattooing could emerge as a more efficient way of delivering DNA vaccines than the conventional way of injecting it intramuscularly.
The researchers used a coat protein from the ‘human papillomavirus (HPV)’, which is the cause of cervical cancer, as a model DNA vaccine antigen. Instead of inserting it in a standard intramuscular way, they tried to deliver it by tattooing the skin of mice with the standard intramuscular injection. They observed the impact in two conditions, when they added the molecular adjuvant, often given to boost immune response and without it.
They found that the tattoo method gave a stronger response both the humeral that are antibody, and cellular response. It was found to be more effective than intramuscular injection, even when they added adjuvant to the latter. Three doses of DNA vaccine given by tattooing formed 16 times higher antibody levels than three intramuscular injections with adjuvant. The adjuvants were also found adding to the effect of the injection, but in case of tattooing; they didn’t contribute much in enhancing the effect.
Tattooing is done with a solid vibrating needle. It causes a wound and swells the skin and prepares the body to activate the immune system of the body. While tattooing, a bigger area of the skin is covered than an injection, making it possible for the DNA vaccine to enter more cells.
Keeping the above things in account, tattooing can be taken as a new and better alternative for introducing a DNA vaccine into the body as it induces a stronger immune response. However it is not an easy way to gain acceptance among the people as everyone might not find it to be equally tasteful. Its likelihood to hurt also makes it less popular.
It is believed to play an important role in routine vaccination of cattle or in delivering therapeutic vaccines to humans.