Archive for March, 2012

Double HIV infection could be foundation for HIV vaccine

Saturday, March 31st, 2012 (last updated)

Ever since HIV was first discovered, the search has been on to find a vaccine that could save the lives of those living with the virus.  Now experts may be one step closer to making that vaccine a reality.
New research has revealed that women who have been infected with two different strains of HIV have more effective antibody responses than those who have only been infected once.  The double infection response was even found to stop replication of the virus.
The condition is known as “HIV Superinfection,” occurring when a person receives two strains of HIV from two different sexual partners – and now it could be the key to fighting the disease in the future.
“These results suggest that potentially having two different antigens is a better way to stimulate a good immune response than just one,” said Julie Overbaugh, a member of the Hutchinson Center’s Human Biology Division and lead author on the study.  “So now the question is: What should be in a good vaccine? These women may be giving us clues.”
The researchers studied a group of women living with HIV in Mombasa, Kenya, over five years.  They followed the immune activity of 12 superinfected women and compared their results to a group of 36 singly infected.  They also controlled for risk factors that could have affected the results.
On average, the superinfected women had 1.68 times more neutralizing antibodies than the singly infected women – and their ability to neutralize the virus from spreading was 1.46 times higher.
According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, more than 1.1 million Americans currently live with HIV, and a new person gets infected with the virus every 9.5 minutes.  With so many people afflicted, Overbaugh and her team are eager to get back into the lab to determine the science behind their findings.
“Now we really want to know why they had a better immune response,” Overbaugh said.  “When you’re studying naturally infected populations, you can’t really demonstrate cause and effect.  What we try to do is try to understand how this kind of response might have been generated.  So we need to isolate [and study] the antibodies that these individuals generated.”
While they still have yet to determine the reasoning behind their findings, Overbaugh has a few theories that could possibly explain the study’s results.
“One possibility is that there was an OK response to the first virus, but the second virus ratcheted up that particular response,” Overbaugh said.  “The other possibility is that there’s a different response to each virus and they just add up to make a nice combination response.”
The prospect of developing a vaccine could give hope to the many people living with HIV – as a vaccine has often been considered the best approach to treating the disease.  The vaccine would potentially be constructed similar to the flu vaccine – in which multiple strains of influenza are injected into the body to stimulate the most effective immune response.  Only in this case, it would be multiple strains of HIV.
However, even in light of this research, the development of an effective vaccine may still be somewhat far off.
“It’s a long way until you see [these findings] in a vaccine, but it can stimulate an effort to understand the model we should be using,”

Fox News Com

If you choose not to vaccinate your child, understand the risks and responsibilities

Friday, March 30th, 2012 (last updated)

If you choose to delay some vaccines or refuse some vaccines entirely, there can be risks. Please follow these steps to protect your child, your family, and others. WHO information for parents.

Click here

WHO Regional Office for Europe

Ghana: the introduction of two vaccines against pneumonia and diarrhea

Friday, March 30th, 2012 (last updated)

GAVI Alliance

Fighting cancer with vaccines

Thursday, March 29th, 2012 (last updated)

Cancer Vaccine Institute (CVI) is the only national charity in the UK exclusively funding research to fight cancer with vaccines and immunotherapy. We are determined to develop a better treatment for cancer to help patients live longer with a better quality of life.

Although vaccines are still in their early stages significant results have already been achieved, particularly with prostate, colorectal, kidney and lung cancer, and many hundreds of patients have benefited. The CVI is currently funding laboratory-based projects that will contribute towards the understanding of immunotherapy and intends to fund clinical projects in for melanoma and other cancers. Although these cancers often respond to chemotherapy and radiotherapy treatments when the disease is caught early, there is a great need for additional treatments when current therapy fails, especially when the disease spreads around the body (secondary cancers).

Cancer Vaccine Institute

Can a flu shot give you the flu?

Wednesday, March 28th, 2012 (last updated)

No, a flu shot cannot cause flu illness. The influenza viruses contained in a flu shot are inactivated (killed), which means they cannot cause infection. Flu vaccine manufacturers kill the viruses used in the vaccine during the process of making vaccine, and batches of flu vaccine are tested to make sure they are safe. In randomized, blinded studies, where some people get flu shots and others get salt-water shots, the only differences in symptoms was increased soreness in the arm and redness at the injection site among people who got the flu shot. There were no differences in terms of body aches, fever, cough, runny nose or sore throat.

More information on this topic is available at:


Can HPV vaccine benefit more people?

Tuesday, March 27th, 2012 (last updated)

A new study released in this week’s British Medical Journal finds that the human papillomavirus, or HPV, vaccine, Gardasil, given to young women to help prevent cervical cancer may have some additional benefits for women who are already infected with HPV.
Gardasil maker Merck funded the study and found that the vaccine reduced re-occurrence of HPV related diseases by 46% among women who were infected prior to vaccination.
According to the Center for Disease Control, HPV is the most common sexually transmitted infection. By the CDC’s count, 90% of HPV cases are naturally cleared by the body, in two years. But, when not cleared, those infections can lead to genital warts and cervical cancer.
According to Dr. Elmar Joura, lead author of the study, “many people think that the vaccine only works in young girls prior to their sexual debut.” Joura is an associate professor at the Medical University of Vienna, Comprehensive Cancer Center. He went on to say, “We could prove with our study that also women with disease get a substantial benefit by the vaccine.”
The study looked at 1,350 women from 24 different countries. The women were between the ages of 15 and 26 and were provided either the vaccine or a placebo. While women with a previous history of HPV related disease were excluded from the study, women enrolled in the trial were not screened for HPV related disease. As a result, women with ongoing infection and disease were vaccinated.
When looking specifically at vaccinated enrollees who underwent cervical surgery, their risk of developing of any additional disease after surgery was 6.6 cases for every 100 women. When looking at women who had surgery and were given the placebo, their risk of developing disease nearly doubled to 12.2 cases for every 100 women.
While the numbers seem promising, Jane Kim with the Harvard Medical School of Public Health was wary of expanding the results of the study to the general public. In an accompanying editorial in BMJ she wrote, “contrary to the author’s suggestion, generalizations to women who are considering HPV vaccination after treatment for related disease require a better understanding of individual characteristics and heterogeneities in these different populations.”
Dr. Elizabeth Poyner, a gynological oncologist with Lenox Hill Hospital in New York said the study furthers our knowledge about the vaccine, but was cautious about implementing it in practice. “This is not a practice change. It helps to further define the impact of HPV vaccine. But this shouldn’t change who we are giving the vaccine to,” said Poyner.

CNN Health

Australia sees sharp rise in whooping cough cases

Sunday, March 25th, 2012 (last updated)

A new strain of pertussis, or whooping cough, is believed to be responsible for a sharp rise in cases found in Australia.
Australia’s prolonged whooping cough epidemic entered a disturbing new phase when a team of scientists from the University of New South Wales announced that an emerging genotype of the Bordetella pertussis bacteria may be evading the effects of the acellular vaccine.
The researchers said that the new strain has been seen in other countries, that which suggest that it has the potential to spark new epidemics. They warned the new genotype should be closely monitored.
“The prolonged whooping cough epidemic in Australia that began during 2008 has been predominantly caused by the new genotype of B. pertussis,” a coauthor of the UNSW study, Ruiting Lan said. “The genotype was responsible for 31 percent of cases in the 10 years before the epidemic, and that’s now jumped to 84 percent – a nearly three-fold increase, indicating it has gained a selective advantage under the current vaccination regime.”
In 2011, Australia suffered 38,000 new cases of the illness, despite a relatively high rate of vaccine coverage.
“The vaccine is still the best way to reduce transmission of the disease and reduce cases, but it appears to be less effective against the new strain and immunity wanes more rapidly,” Lan said. “We need to look at changes to the vaccine itself or increase the number of boosters.”
The researchers said that, to some degree, an increase in the number cases reported may be partly related to a recent improvement in diagnostic testing. They said that some mild or atypical cases in older children and adults may now be more likely to be correctly identified. This alone, however, does not account for the marked increase in hospital admissions due to the illness.

Vaccine News Daily

Where could the next outbreak of measles be?

Saturday, March 24th, 2012 (last updated)

Even as more American children are getting immunized against measles, diphtheria and other diseases, public-health officials are increasingly worried about potential outbreaks of these illnesses in certain pockets of the country where vaccination rates are dangerously low.
Parts of Oregon, Washington state, Idaho, Montana and a few other states have some of the lowest rates of compliance with vaccination guidelines—and the problem is growing, health officials say. Overall vaccination rates in some of these communities are under 80%, far below the threshold that is needed to prevent an outbreak for certain diseases. Exemptions in many states for philosophical or religious reasons allow parents to opt out of requirements for children to be vaccinated before entering school. Other parents delay immunizations for their young children, leaving them exposed to possible infections for a longer time.
Health experts say a community needs about 95% of its citizens to be immunized against measles to ensure herd immunity, where vaccinating a large percentage of a population keeps even unvaccinated people from getting the disease. Even people who aren’t vaccinated, such as newborns, get some protection from herd immunity as the disease remains limited to a small part of the community. Measles is a highly contagious respiratory condition that can lead to encephalitis, pneumonia and death. Other diseases, depending on how contagious they are, require other rates of immunization for a community to benefit. For mumps, 88% need to be immunized, and for chickenpox and polio the rate is 90%. “The Northwest is a black hole for religious exemptions” from vaccination, says Lorraine Duncan, immunization manager in the Oregon Health Authority’s Public Health Division. Last year, 5.6% of Oregon kindergartners had a religious exemption for vaccines, up from 2% a decade ago, Ms. Duncan says. In some school zones around Eugene and Portland, more than 10% of children have religious exemptions, and in pockets of the state’s southwestern corner, exemption rates are more than 20%, she says.

The Wall Street Journal

Life Saving Vaccines

Saturday, March 24th, 2012 (last updated)

Every year about 1.7 million children die of diseases that could be prevented by immunisation. Find out how Sport Relief together with the Bill and Melinda Gates foundation are working towards providing vaccines to the world’s poorest countries by going to ‪


Europe & ACP (African, Caribbean and Pacific Group of States) together against tuberculosis

Thursday, March 22nd, 2012 (last updated)

How can the African, Caribbean and Pacific Group of States (ACP countries) and Europe team up to strengthen each other in the fight against tuberculosis? On the occasion of World TB Day 2012, The TuBerculosis Vaccine Initiative (TBVI) organised a symposium in which high level speakers from both continents discussed this issue.  The meeting was hosted in the European Parliament by Member of Parliament Mr Charles Goerens.

With nearly 9 million new cases and almost 1.5 million deaths per year, tuberculosis (TB) is the second deadliest infectious disease in the world. Drug resistance forms a serious and increasing threat, recent statistics from the World Health Organisation (WHO) show that the number of resistant cases is on the rise. Children are double hit; not only is the disease more difficult to diagnose and treat in children, some ten million children have been orphaned due to TB and many more have had to quit school to care for relatives or provide a living for their families.

New tools to control tuberculosis are urgently needed, no group of countries knows that better than the African, Caribbean and Pacific Group of States (ACP), where TB devastates the lives of millions of people every year. With better diagnostics, drugs and vaccines, TB can be controlled and eventually eliminated.

“Only a large scale vaccination programme will help achieve elimination of TB in 2050,” said MEP Mr Louis Michel, adding it is Europe’s duty to encourage the struggle against tuberculosis on a European level by supporting organisations such as TBVI.

A joint approach to TB vaccine development can identify research priorities, maximise limited available resources and provide guidance to scientists, regulators, advocates, donors, investors and decision makers. Dr Jelle Thole, director of TBVI therefore took the opportunity to present a strategic plan that was published this week by the global TB vaccine research community. Dr Thole: “We have a rich portfolio of promising vaccine candidates, but we have to manage it and fill the gaps. The Blueprint gives us direction to do so. ”

Download the presentation: Tuberculosis Vaccines: A strategic blueprint for the next decade

Tuberculosis Vaccine Initiative