Archive for 2011

Reasons to vaccinate: “Choose facts over fear”

Saturday, December 31st, 2011 (last updated)

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BYU College of Nursing

Experimental norovirus vaccine shows promise

Wednesday, December 28th, 2011 (last updated)

An experimental vaccine has been shown in a small study to protect people from norovirus, infamous for sickening hundreds in outbreaks aboard cruise ships.
Noroviruses spread from person to person and through contaminated food or water, causing diarrhea, vomiting and stomach pain. The infection causes more than 20 million cases of acute gastroenteritis annually in the United States, and there is no treatment.

Researchers tested a vaccine containing a weakened, non-infectious version of the virus in hopes that it would prompt a protective immune response in humans. Seventy-seven healthy men and women ages 18 to 50 participated. In two doses given three weeks apart, 38 subjects received the vaccine and 39 an inactive placebo. The results appeared in a recent issue of The New England Journal of Medicine.
After the second dose, all volunteers drank a liquid containing norovirus. Infection and illness developed in 37 percent of those who received the vaccine, compared with 69 percent of those who took the placebo. Among those infected, the illness was less severe and of shorter duration in the vaccine group, and the vaccine had no serious side effects.

Still, a marketable vaccine is years away, according to Dr. Robert L. Atmar, the lead author of the study and professor of medicine at Baylor. “What this shows is a proof of principle that norovirus can be prevented through vaccination,” he said.

New England Journal of Medicine & New York Times

Vaccine hope for sufferers of auto-immune diseases like Crohn’s and rheumatoid arthritis

Monday, December 26th, 2011 (last updated)

A synthetic vaccine based on nanotechnology holds out the promise of halting auto-immune diseases such as Crohn’s and rheumatoid arthritis, it was reported today.
Early research has shown that the molecular principle behind the approach works, at least in mice.

Scientists are excited by the findings, which hold out the prospect of new treatments for a broad range of conditions. The research could also lead to new ways of tackling the spread of cancer. However, much more work is needed before experts can be sure the therapy is safe for humans.
The vaccine tricks the immune system into producing antibodies that target an enzyme at the heart of autoimmune diseases. Matrix metalloproteinases (MMPs) cut through structural materials such as collagen to assist cellular mobilisation and wound healing. When some members of the enzyme family, especially the enzyme MMP9, get out of control they can promote autoimmune disease and cancer metastasis – the deadly spread of cancer around the body.
MMPs are normally held in check naturally by inhibitor molecules called TIMPs.
But the biological mechanism involved is extremely precise, and previous attempts to mimic it with artificial drugs have produced severe side effects.

The new research took a different tack by not targeting MMPs directly. Instead, tiny metallic vaccine molecules were created that fooled the immune system into manufacturing its own MMP-suppressing antibodies. When the vaccine was tested on mice with a rodent version of Crohn’s – a form of inflammatory bowel disease – it significantly reduced their symptoms. Untreated mice suffered severe damage to their colons while those injected with the vaccine experienced only “limited” inflammation.

Professor Irit Sagi, from the Weizmann Institute in Rehovot, Israel, said: “We are excited not only by the potential of this method to treat Crohn’s, but by the potential of using this approach to explore novel treatments for many other diseases.”
The research is published in the journal Nature Medicine (Netta Sela-Passwell, et al. Antibodies targeting the catalytic zinc complex of activated matrix metalloproteinases show therapeutic potential. Nature Medicine 2011; published online 25 December 2011).

Mirror & Nature Medicine

Aim HPV vaccination efforts at girls

Thursday, December 22nd, 2011 (last updated)

The most effective way to reduce the spread of human papillomavirus (HPV) infections through a population is to aim public health efforts at vaccinating a very high percentage of either girls or boys against the disease, but not both, a new study suggests.
The study is based on a new mathematical model of HPV transmission.
Because many countries have started vaccinating girls against HPV, these countries should stick to vaccinating girls, said study researcher Johannes Bogaards, of the department of epidemiology and biostatistics at VU University Medical Center in Amsterdam. Only once most girls are vaccinated should efforts begin to vaccinate boys, and even then, only if there will be an added benefit to male vaccination, Bogaards said.
The findings counter a recent decision by a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) panel, which recommended boys and girls receive the HPV vaccine.
Bogaards and colleagues found the most effective way to reduce HPV infections was to vaccinating a single sex. This is because, in the case of heterosexual transmission of the virus, vaccination of one sex also protects the other, Bogaards said.
If you have a limited amount of vaccine, vaccinating 100 percent of women and 0 percent of men will lead to a greater reduction in HPV infections than vaccinating 50 percent of women and 50 percent of men, Bogaards said.
In addition, in most cases, the best strategy is to vaccine the sex that has the highest prevalence of the disease. HPV is more prevalent in women because it causes longer and more persistent infections in women than in men, Bogaards said.

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My Health News Daily & Plos Medicine

HIV vaccine approved for human testing

Wednesday, December 21st, 2011 (last updated)

Canadian researchers have received approval to begin human testing of an experimental HIV vaccine.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has given the go-ahead to researchers at the University of Western Ontario to test the vaccine, which is based on a genetically modified killed whole virus.
The researchers say Phase I of the clinical trial, which will begin in January, will test the safety of the vaccine in 40 HIV-positive volunteers.
The SAV001 vaccine, developed by Dr. Chil-Yong Kang and his team with support from Sumagen Canada, has been shown to stimulate a strong immune response in preliminary toxicology tests. If the SAV001 vaccine is found to be safe, it would require two more clinical trials that prove it works before it could be brought to market.
Phase II would measure immune responses to the vaccine in people who are HIV negative but at high risk of infection and Phase III would test the efficacy of the vaccine in a larger group of similarly at-risk individuals.
“FDA approval for human clinical trials is an extremely significant milestone for our vaccine,” Kang said in a statement Tuesday.

HIV-AIDS has killed more than 28 million people worldwide, and more than 35 million people currently live with the infection. There have been numerous attempts by pharmaceutical companies and academic institutions worldwide to develop vaccines, but no commercialized vaccine has yet been developed.

the Canadian Press & Global News Canada

Childhood and adolescent immunzations

Tuesday, December 20th, 2011 (last updated)

This webinar discusses the effects of childhood and adolescent vaccine-preventable diseases, identifies the recommended adolescent vaccinations and the latest CDC recommendations for whom to give the Tdap booster, identifies proper childhood and adolescent immunization dosing schedules, and reviews the latest HPV vaccine recommendations and coverage levels.

Florida Bureau of Immunization

Researchers develop promising new cancer vaccine

Sunday, December 18th, 2011 (last updated)

Scientists report on the design of an anticancer vaccine targeting MUC1, which triggers strong humoral and cellular immune responses in vivo, and leads to a significant reduction in tumor burden in animals carrying MUC1-expressing tumors. Sandra Gendler, Ph.D., at Mayo Clinic in Arizona, explains how researchers at Mayo Clinic and the University of Georgia (UGA) have developed this vaccine that dramatically reduces tumors in a mouse model that mimics 90 percent of human breast and pancreatic cancer cases — including those that are resistant to common treatments

PNAS & Mayoclinic

An excellent influenza documentary : « Influenza : aiming at a moving target »

Saturday, December 17th, 2011 (last updated)

ESWI has just released its brand new influenza documentary. The film covers all aspects of the disease, ranging from the characteristics of the flu virus itself to the impact of pandemic and epidemic influenza. This attractive and informative influenza movie (38 min of length), has now been made available free of charge.


Why vaccinate: the reasons are in the vaccination research

Thursday, December 15th, 2011 (last updated)

There’s a lot of talk about the pros and cons of vaccination, so concerned parents can wind up spending a lot of time searching for factual, easy-to-understand information. These graphics can help you understand the impact of vaccines and make the choice to vaccinate your child.

1. Risk in perspective

Did you know a child is 100 times more likely to get struck by lightning than have a severe allergic reaction to a vaccine? See more stats that will help put the risks of in context.

2. Do we take vaccination for granted?

It may seem like all the talk about vaccines has drowned out the benefits. But when you look at how far we’ve come at beating infectious disease, vaccines truly are amazing. Take a look at this graphic and see for yourself.

3. It’s 2011 and measles is still an issue

This story of a measles outbreak in Minnesota starts in February 2011 with a single unvaccinated child. It then spreads to the child’s daycare center, family members, emergency room workers and more. See how the facts unfold.

4. Vaccines are up there with seat belts

Like seat belts and car seats, vaccines can be lifesavers. In fact, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has said immunization is the most important public health act in history, after safe drinking water.

5. What could happen if we stop vaccinating?

In 1975, Japan stopped vaccinating against pertussis.17 Just 5 years later they went from having 373 cases of pertussis to 13,000 cases and 41 deaths. Take a look at how vaccination controls infectious diseases.

6. What do other parents think about vaccines?

There may be a lot of controversy out there, but you may be surprised by how other parents feel about vaccination.

7. Is polio a thing of the past?

Here in the United States, we are very fortunate to have high immunization rates. But it’s important to remember we live in a global society. People and goods cross borders every day, and with them come another kind of frequent flyer: infectious disease germs. For example, from 2009 to 2010, 23 countries that had previously been certified “polio-free” were re-infected due to imported cases of the disease.

8.Vaccines and the fight against cancer

Most people don’t think of vaccines as a way to help prevent cancer. But some vaccines can. In fact, the first such vaccine was the Hep B vaccine. It prevents infection with Hep B virus, which is known to cause liver cancer.

9. Why the pertussis vaccine makes sense

Whooping cough, medically known as pertussis, is still alive and well. In recent years pertussis cases have been climbing.25 In 2010, more than 21,000 cases of pertussis were reported to the CDC—a majority of them children and teens. But that’s just the tip of the iceberg. Experts estimate that there are up to 3.3 million adult and adolescent cases of pertussis (whooping cough) each year in the United States, but because pertussis is less severe in teens and adults, many can get misdiagnosed or undiagnosed. That’s a problem because it’s also 1 of the diseases kids usually get from adults, which is why it’s so important to vaccinate ourselves.

10. Vaccines are lifesavers

In fact, they prevent the deaths of an estimated 3 million children each year worldwide. Because of vaccines, people living in the United States today don’t see some of the serious diseases, such as polio and diphtheria that used to harm or kill many children in this country. However, some of our parents or grandparents may well remember these feared diseases. It’s important to keep vaccinating so these diseases don’t come back.

11. Why vaccinate children for Hepatitis B

This stat shows just how much has changed since 1991, when we started vaccinating children for Hep B.

12. The flu fact

Despite what many people have heard, the flu shot can’t give people the flu. The virus sample used in the flu shot has been killed, or inactivated, meaning it can no longer cause infection.

ImmYounity (

HPV vaccine doesn’t encourage risky sexual activity

Tuesday, December 13th, 2011 (last updated)

Girls and young women who are vaccinated against human papillomavirus (HPV) appear to be no more likely than those who are not vaccinated to engage in sexually risky behaviors, a CDC survey finds.

HPV is the most common sexually transmitted infection in the U.S., with an estimated 6.2 million new infections each year.

Two types of the virus, HPV 16 and HPV 18, are responsible for 70% of cervical cancers. HPV also causes genital warts and can lead to cancer of the cervix, vagina, vulva, penis and anus.

With the approval of the first vaccine to prevent HPV infection in 2006 and the second in 2009, concerns emerged that vaccination might promote sexually risky behaviors.

Results from the CDC survey suggest these concerns may be unfounded, but researcher Nicole C. Liddon, PhD, warns against over-interpreting the findings.

Liddon is a research scientist with the CDC’s Division of Adolescent and School Health.

“This survey represents a snapshot in time, and we cannot rule out the possibility that the HPV vaccine leads to sexual risk taking. But this should help calm concerns of parents and (health care) providers to some degree.”

HPV Common in the Sexually Active

Among non-vaccinated girls and boys, infection with HPV is very common following initiation of sexual behavior.

By one estimate, 24% of teenaged girls in the U.S. between the ages of 14 and 19 and 45% of women in their early to mid-20s are infected with HPV.

For this reason, vaccination efforts target girls who are not yet sexually active. Current recommendations call for vaccination of girls and women ages 11-26 with the Cervarix or Gardasil vaccine. The Gardasil vaccine is also approved for use in boys.

In an effort to examine vaccine coverage rates and whether being vaccinated against HPV has any impact on behavior, Liddon and colleagues examined survey data from more than 1,200 young women between the ages of 15 and 24.

The women were participants in a CDC-sponsored survey examining sexual and reproductive health issues among teens and young adults.

The young women were surveyed between 2007 and 2008, after the first HPV vaccine became available.

Twice as many teens as women in their early 20s reported initiating the three-dose HPV vaccine series (30% vs. 15%). Liddon says this finding was not surprising because early efforts to promote the vaccine focused on teens.

Among the surveyed teens, race did not appear to be a factor in HPV vaccine coverage, but young women with health insurance were more likely to have had initiated HPV vaccination than young women without health insurance.

The survey did not include information on the young women’s ages at HPV vaccination, and it was not clear if vaccination occurred before or after they became sexually active.

Among sexually active women, those who had initiated HPV vaccination were more likely than unvaccinated women to report that they consistently used a condom during sex.

The researchers conclude that this may be because young women who are more concerned about practicing safe sex are also more likely to be vaccinated against HPV.

The study is published in the latest issue of the American Journal of Preventive Medicine (Liddon N, et al. Am J Prev Med 2012; 42 (1): 44-52.)

WebMD & American Journal of Preventive Medicine 2012