A vaccine is a biological preparation that improves immunity to a particular disease. A vaccine typically contains an agent that resembles a disease-causing microorganism, and is often made from weakened or killed forms of the microbe. The agent stimulates the body’s immune system to recognize the agent as foreign, destroy it, and “remember” it, so that the immune system can more easily recognize and destroy any of these microorganisms that it later encounters.
Vaccines can be prophylactic (e.g. to prevent or ameliorate the effects of a future infection by any natural or “wild” pathogen), or therapeutic (e.g. vaccines against cancer are also being investigated; see cancer vaccine).
The term ”vaccine” derives from Edward Jenner’s 1796 use of the term ”cow pox” (Latin ”variolæ vaccinæ”, adapted from the Latin ”vaccīn-us”, from ”vacca” cow), which, when administered to humans, provided them protection against smallpox.
Vaccine development has several trends:
o Until recently, most vaccines were aimed at infants and children, but adolescents and adults are increasingly being targeted.
o Combinations of vaccines are becoming more common; vaccines containing five or more components are used in many parts of the world. For example, the experimental vaccine CYT006-AngQb has been investigated as a possible treatment for high blood pressure. Factors that have impact on the trends of vaccine development include progress in translatory medicine, demographics, regulatory science, political, cultural, and social responses.
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