Archive for July, 2012

Overweight? There’s a vaccine for that

Tuesday, July 10th, 2012 (last updated)

New vaccines promote weight loss. A new study, published in BioMed Central’s open access journal, Journal of Animal Science and Biotechnology, assesses the effectiveness of two somatostatin vaccinations, JH17 and JH18, in reducing weight gain and increasing weight loss in mice. Obesity and obesity-related disease is a growing health issue worldwide. Somatostatin, a peptide hormone, inhibits the action of growth hormone (GH) and insulin-like growth factor (IGF-1), both of which increase metabolism and result in weight loss. Vaccination with modified somatostatin causes the body to generate antibodies to somatostatin, effectively removing this inhibition without directly interfering with the growth hormones and subsequently increasing energy expenditure and weight loss.

Keith Haffer from Braasch Biotech LLC, tested the vaccinations in two groups of ten diet-induced obese male mice compared with a control group of ten mice which received saline injections. Mice in all groups had been fed a high fat diet for eight weeks prior to the study and continued to eat the same food for the duration of the six-week study. The vaccinations were administered twice — at the start of the study followed by a booster vaccination on day 22.

Four days after the first injection of modified somatostatin, the vaccinated mice had a 10% drop in body weight (not seen in the control mice). At the end of the study, results showed that both vaccines induced antibodies to somatostatin and significantly reduced body weight, sustaining a 10% lower body weight, without affecting normal levels of the growth hormone IGF-1, or insulin levels.

“This study demonstrates the possibility of treating obesity with vaccination,” Keith explained. He continued, “Although further studies are necessary to discover the long term implications of these vaccines, treatment of human obesity with vaccination would provide physicians with a drug- and surgical- free option against the weight epidemic.”

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e! Science News

“Immunisation: a matter of justice” – GAVI Progress Report

Tuesday, July 10th, 2012 (last updated)

Message from the chair of the GAVI Alliance Board, Dagfinn Hoybraten:

“Every 20 seconds a child dies from a vaccine-preventable disease. He or she will most likely be in a developing country. For this still to be happening in the 21st century is unjust and morally unacceptable. Being part of the GAVI Alliance allows me, in some small way, to be part of the solution to this injustice.”

“My first full year as Board Chair was a pivotal one for GAVI. At the start of the year we faced a funding gap of US$ 3.7 billion in the midst of a global financial crisis and the challenging task of recruiting a new CEO.”

“I am certain that 2012 will prove to be an equally exciting year. The Child Survival Call to Action, scheduled for 14–15 June in Washington, DC, will be an opportunity to focus on the importance of immunisation for child health. Later in the year, we will hold our fifth Partners’ Forum in Dar-es-Salaam, bringing together a wide range of Alliance partners to celebrate our achievements, to learn from the past and to see where we can improve. Our Alliance is broader and stronger than ever. Together we can help to fulfil every child’s right to a healthy, prosperous future.”


Six years after introduction of the HPV vaccine, infection rates of the HPV viruses are dropping, even among unvaccinated

Monday, July 9th, 2012 (last updated)

The HPV vaccine not only has resulted in a decrease in human papillomavirus infection in immunized teens but also in teens who were not immunized.

The study is believed to be the first to show a substantial decrease in HPV infection in a community setting as well as herd protection – a decrease in infection rates among unimmunized individuals that occurs when a critical mass of people in a community is immunized against a contagious disease.

The Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center study will be published online July 9 in the eFirst pages of Pediatrics.

“Infection with the types of HPV targeted by the vaccine decreased in vaccinated young women by 69 percent,” says Jessica Kahn, MD, MPH, a physician in the division of Adolescent Medicine at Cincinnati Children’s and lead author of the study. “Two of these HPV types, HPV-16 and HPV-18, cause about 70 percent of cervical cancer. Thus, the results are promising in that they suggest that vaccine introduction could substantially reduce rates of cervical cancer in this community in the future.”

The first HPV vaccine was licensed for use in the United States in June 2006. The U.S. Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices has recommended vaccination of girls and women between the ages of 11 and 26 to reduce rates of HPV infection, which ultimately can lead to cervical cancer.

In 2006 and 2007, Dr. Kahn and colleagues at Cincinnati Children’s recruited 368 young women between the ages of 13 and 16 from two primary care clinics in the city of Cincinnati. The young women had sexual contact but none were vaccinated. In 2009 and 2010, they recruited a different group of 409 young women in the same age range, more than half of whom had received at least one dose of the vaccine. The researchers compared pre- and post-vaccination HPV prevalence rates.

The prevalence of vaccine-type HPV decreased 58 percent overall, from 31.7 percent to 13.4 percent. The decrease was high among vaccinated participants (69 percent), but also was substantial for those who were unvaccinated (49 percent).

Dr. Kahn says the decrease in vaccine-type HPV among vaccinated participants was “especially remarkable,” given that participants were sexually experienced, many were exposed to vaccination-type HPV before vaccination, and only one dose of the vaccine was required to be considered vaccinated.

Dr. Kahn emphasizes that despite the evidence of herd immunity demonstrated in her study, vaccination of all young women between the ages of 11 and 26 is important to maximize the health benefits of vaccination.

Although vaccine-type HPV decreased, the overall prevalence of HPV (including types not targeted by the vaccine) in the study was “extremely high,” says Dr. Kahn. “Nearly one in four unvaccinated study participants was already positive for at least one high-risk HPV type.”


Lyme disease vaccines deserve a second look

Monday, July 9th, 2012 (last updated)

A decade after a vaccine for Lyme disease was pulled from the market amid poor sales and public controversy, New Englanders need to ask: How long should we allow a largely preventable disease to continue unabated? In most years, according to the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than 20,000 cases of the tick-borne bacterial infection are diagnosed in the United States. A vaccine would be especially useful in New England, the mid-Atlantic states, Minnesota, and Wisconsin — which account for more than 94 percent of all Lyme disease cases. Yet as WBUR reported in a recent series on Lyme disease, dogs can be vaccinated against Lyme disease, but people cannot.

The drug firm then known as SmithKline Beecham got FDA approval in 1998 for a human vaccine called Lymerix, but experts offered inconsistent advice about who should get the vaccine. Never-proven claims that the Lyme vaccine caused arthritis and other symptoms scared off some patients and raised the possibility of big legal judgments. For the manufacturer, the limited sales didn’t justify the risks.

But with a decade of hindsight, people in the areas most affected by Lyme disease deserve a second look. Not everyone will be accepting; opposition to the measles, mumps, and rubella vaccine has become entrenched among some parents, even as the research that initially fueled it has been discredited. Yet it’s precisely because of that controversy that medical authorities, the media, and the general public may weigh claims by vaccine critics more carefully.

As Lyme disease cases continue to emerge, public health authorities in New England need to lead the drive to bring existing vaccines back — or promote research on new and better ones.

The Boston Globe

Researchers have discovered a new vaccine to fight hospital-acquired infections with Pseudomonas aeruginosa

Friday, July 6th, 2012 (last updated)

Researchers at Brigham and Women’s Hospital (BWH) have discovered a new vaccine candidate for the bacterium Pseudomonas aeruginosa taking advantage of a new mechanism of immunity.

The study was published online in the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine on June 21, 2012.

Pseudomonas aeruginosa is a leading cause of hospital-acquired infections, particularly in patients on respirators, where it can cause so-called ventilator-associated pneumonia, which carries a very high mortality rate. Pseudomonas also causes lung infections in people with cystic fibrosis, a genetic disorder that renders the lungs susceptible to bacterial infection.

Despite more than 40 years of vaccine research and development, there is no clinically available vaccine for this bacterium. Most prior vaccine efforts have focused on generating antibodies to Pseudomonas toxins or surface molecules, especially the sugar coating on the bug called the lipopolysaccharide O antigen. These approaches have not yielded a licensed vaccine for humans.

Gregory Priebe, MD, BWH Division of Infectious Diseases, Department of Medicine, and Boston Children’s Hospital Division of Critical Care Medicine, Department of Anesthesiology, Perioperative and Pain Medicine, along with researchers from Harvard Medical School, constructed a vaccine based on a new mechanism of immunity to Pseudomonas mediated by T helper 17 (Th17) cells. Th17 cells are a recently described type of helper T cells that secrete the cytokine IL-17 and enhance antibacterial mucosal defenses.

In the current studies, the investigators designed a screen for Th17-stimulating protein antigens expressed by a molecular library of DNA encoding Pseudomonas proteins. The screen discovered that the Pseudomonas protein PopB is a very effective stimulator of Th17 immunity, and immunization with purified PopB protected mice from lethal pneumonia in an antibody-independent fashion.

The researchers are currently taking their work a step further by constructing conjugate vaccines using PopB as a protein carrier with the hopes of improving the effectiveness of the vaccine. They hope that the PopB-based vaccine might one day be used to prevent Pseudomonas infections in hospitalized patients and in people with cystic fibrosis.

News Medical Net

A very famous cow called Blossom

Friday, July 6th, 2012 (last updated)

How a cow called Blossom was vital in one of the greatest medical discoveries of all time.

Jenner Museum

GAVI and the Millennium Development Goals

Thursday, July 5th, 2012 (last updated)

A two minute animated film showing how the GAVI Alliance works with a broad range of public and private sector partners to reach children in developing countries with vaccines.

This global development model helps achieve the Millennium Development Goals. It’s not just about numbers it’s about lives saved and healthy lives lived as a result of immunisation.

GAVI Alliance

Prevent. Protect. Immunize

Tuesday, July 3rd, 2012 (last updated)

There are plenty of dangers in the world, but at least if your children are vaccinated, they will be protected from measles or mumps or rubella or tetanus or diphtheria or pertussis or
hepatitis B or polio. It is as simple as that.


  • Did you know that measles still kills people in Europe?
  • Did you know that every hour one unprotected child gets measles?
  • Did you know that every year 600 000 children in Europe are not fully vaccinated?
  • Did you know that your unvaccinated child is a health risk to others?

We need your help. Watch the video and forward it!

And please, vaccinate your children!


Who should get the shingles vaccine, and why?

Monday, July 2nd, 2012 (last updated)

Shingles (herpes zoster) is a reemergence of the virus that causes chickenpox. The virus lies dormant in nerves after infection, and can reactivate later in life, causing a temporary but painful rash in the skin. In some cases, shingles can leave long-term nerve pain at the site of the outbreak. Nearly one in three Americans will develop it, and symptoms are often worse with age.

A shingles vaccine (Zostavax) is now available, and is recommended for anyone over the age of 60, provided they don’t have severely depressed immunity because of a medical condition or medications. Although it targets the same virus as the chickenpox vaccine, rather than preventing infection it helps the immune system control the virus that is already present. “The idea is to prevent something that for many people can be very disabling,” says Elisa Choi, an infectious disease specialist at Harvard Vanguard Medical Associates. In a clinical trial of adults over 60, the vaccine reduced the risk of shingles by half and long-term nerve pain by two-thirds.


A recent study in the New England Journal of Medicine affirmed that the vaccine is generally safe and well tolerated. Yet relatively few older adults have been vaccinated. Choi says there are several reasons, including cost (the vaccine is relatively expensive and not covered by all insurance) and lack of awareness among clinicians of adult vaccines. “It’s absolutely worth asking about from the patient’s side, if the doctor doesn’t bring it up him or herself,” she says.

The Boston Globe

Why do kids need shots? From a scientific answer to “ouch, it hurts”

Sunday, July 1st, 2012 (last updated)

Each child had a story to tell about vaccines. About running away from doctors, about lollipops and band-aids, and feeling better knowing they were safer. The older kids knew how vaccines worked, while the youngest said only, “Ouch. It hurts.”

Each of the “GAVI Players” is unique. Yet, they all agreed: shots protect you from disease. Shots hurt but only for a minute and getting sick hurts a lot more. Shots are not fun, but they are absolutely necessary.

As the eldest of the group put it: “Vaccines have protected my friends from disease. But children just like them in poor countries dont have access to immunization. “And that is why GAVI is hard at work in the 72 poorest countries, so their children can be happy and smiling and healthy.

Immunize Every Child – GAVI