If Vical Inc. succeeds in its mission, the company and its president and chief executive, Vijay Samant, would likely find themselves mentioned in the same company with Jonas Salk.
For right now, though, the fact that Vical scientists are even attempting the kind of research they are working on makes the company and its leader influential.
Vical is working on DNA-based vaccines. If successful, they could be used to treat some of the world's toughest viruses, like HIV. The technology Vical is researching has been around for more than a decade, and Samant said the fact that scientists tried to apply it to difficult diseases right away is the reason it hasn't reached patients yet, but that doesn't mean it won't work someday.