Archive for September, 2012

Companies receive NIH grant for malaria vaccine regimen

Sunday, September 30th, 2012 (last updated)

Protein Potential, LLC, and Aduro BioTech, Inc., were recently awarded a National Institutes of Health grant to develop two novel vaccines against malaria.

The Phase 1 Small Business Innovation Research grant from the NIH will be used to develop individual vaccines to stimulate immune responses that target the cicrcumsporozoite protein antigen of Plasmodium falciparum, the parasite responsible for most malaria-related deaths.

The novel vaccines are to be used in a sequential regimen designed to induce the spectrum of immune responses needed for longer-lasting protection from the illness.

Protein Potential, the project’s leader, is tasked with producing the recombinant proteins required to produce cicrcumsporozoite protein antigens that can then be combined with adjuvants. Aduro BioTech plans to use its technology based on live-attenuated Listeria monocytogenes to create a strain that expresses cicrcumsporozoite protein antigen.

Together, the two vaccines will be used to stimulate both humoral and cellular immune responses, with the goal of creating a regimen that can be tested in human clinical trials.

“The partnership with Aduro is an exciting opportunity to explore the synergy of these two approaches to stimulate immunity and move rapidly to the clinic with a malaria vaccine,” Dr. B. Kim Lee Sim, the founder and president of Protein Potential, said.

Vaccine News Daily

Communicating with parents about vaccination: a framework for health professionals

Saturday, September 29th, 2012 (last updated)

A critical factor shaping parental attitudes to vaccination is the parent’s interactions with health professionals. An effective interaction can address the concerns of vaccine supportive parents and motivate a hesitant parent towards vaccine acceptance. Poor communication can contribute to rejection of vaccinations or dissatisfaction with care. We sought to provide a framework for health professionals when communicating with parents about vaccination.

Communicating with parents about vaccination: a framework for health professionals Click here

BMC Pediatrics

Telling the story of why we need vaccines for Meningococcal disease

Saturday, September 29th, 2012 (last updated)


New initiative aims to tackle rabies terror

Friday, September 28th, 2012 (last updated)

Friday September 28 is World Rabies Day, focusing on the global problem caused by this horrific disease and how it can be eradicated. Worldwide, some 55000 people still die every year from rabies, most of them children in Asia and Africa.

With the increasing trend for long-haul travel, it’s an issue which is certainly relevant to the UK. In May this year, a woman of Indian origin, in her 50s, died of rabies at the Hospital for Tropical Diseases, after being bitten by a dog while visiting India. The previous February, in Amsterdam, a puppy was found to have rabies after being imported into the Netherlands from Morocco via Spain, the result of lax border controls.

Is there a risk of rabies being reintroduced into Britain, which has been free of the disease since the early 20th century? Recent moves to harmonise EU controls on the cross border movement of pet animals have resulted in a significant relaxation on the rules for importing pets from Europe – so that the UK’s previous six month quarantine period has been confined to history. While in depth risk assessments carried out by bodies such as the Department of the Environment (Defra) have found the risk of rabies being brought in to be extremely low, some would argue that the barrier to rabies entering the UK has been lowered. Illegal imports present the highest risk.

The virus that causes rabies (the Lyssa virus) is good at “hiding” from the immune system, which means the body finds it hard to combat. It multiplies in the brain and salivary glands of an infected dog or other animal, causing it to become fiercely aggressive – the classic “mad dog”. A bite (or even a lick on a scratch or graze) from a rabid dog introduces saliva, teeming with infectious viral particles, into the body of the victim. The rabies virus enters the nerves, tracking up through the nervous system towards the skull, where it invades the brain.

The disease has a long incubation period: it can take many months (up to a year in some cases) for the virus to reach the brain. In humans, early symptoms include fever, vomiting and loss of appetite, as well as excess salivation and weeping; in later phases, there may be paralysis, psychiatric symptoms, and fear of water (hydrophobia). Once visible symptoms appear, death is almost always inevitable.

Pre-travel rabies vaccination, involving three injections over the course of a month, is recommended for anyone planning to be in contact with animals in areas where rabies is prevalent (as well as certain other groups). While the vaccine is not recommended to all travellers to rabies prevalent areas, they should be aware of the need for urgent action if they are bitten (or even licked) by a stray dog. An injection of rabies immunoglobulin which helps neutralise the virus and a course of the rabies vaccine, can be highly effective at preventing the development of the disease after a bite.

Rabies: the facts

  • Rabies occurs in over 150 countries and territories around the world
  • Over 95% of human deaths occur in Asia and Africa
  • Dogs are the source of 99% of human rabies deaths. (The disease is also found in foxes, cats and monkeys)
  • When travelling overseas, check the rabies status of your destination before you go
  • If travelling to a rabies-affected area, vaccination is only needed if you expect to be in contact with animalsif you are not vaccinated, thorough cleaning of wounds and obtaining post-exposure rabies immunisation is essential if bitten, licked or scratched by an animal

World Rabies Day - September 28


The Telegraph

Whooping cough vaccine a ‘no-brainer’ in pregnancy

Friday, September 28th, 2012 (last updated)

All pregnant women across the UK are to be offered a whooping cough vaccine to protect their unborn babies from the disease.

The latest outbreak, the worst in two decades, has killed nine newborn babies in England this year.

Vaccinating pregnant women will boost their immunity – and they will pass antibodies against the infection to the developing baby. Health officials say this will protect newborns until they are old enough to be immunised at two, three and four months.

Professor Adam Finn is a paediatrician and vaccine expert at Bristol Royal Hospital for Children. He urged pregnant women to have the jab.

BBC News Health

Protect yourself, protect your family – Get your flu shot

Friday, September 28th, 2012 (last updated)


HUG ME! I’m vaccinated

Thursday, September 27th, 2012 (last updated)
Hug me, I'm vaccinated


And you’re not contagious! You’re vaccinated!

Getting vaccinated not only protects you, but it protects the community around you through “herd immunity.” Each unvaccinated person in the world puts themselves and their community at risk of disease, and those unable to receive vaccines (like tiny babies) rely on every person around them, their herd, to protect them by getting vaccinated.

If you can’t get a disease, you can’t spread it!

Contrary to unpopular belief, vaccines don’t cause autism. They don’t cause diseases or disorders or distress or dystonia. In fact, except for rare cases, receiving a vaccine is completely safe. The greatest risk a person faces when getting vaccinated is an allergic reaction.

The shot you receive saves more lives than your own!

The thought of vaccination can be frightening. But here are some of the things that are undeniably NOT caused by vaccines:
Autism, mercury poisoning, dystonia, Jenny McCarthyism, cancer, hepatitis, HIV, multiple sclerosis, loss of ability to fly, epilepsy, never ever being able to cheerlead again, SIDS, growing old as time goes on, dogs chasing cats, gaining the ability to cheerlead, poor vision, impotence, diabetes, bovine spongiform encephalopathy, or a dislike of being hugged…

…so hug me! I’m vaccinated


Antiobesity “flab jab” vaccine works in mice

Wednesday, September 26th, 2012 (last updated)

A mouse study presented this week at Obesity 2012, the annual scientific meeting of the Obesity Society, offers an enticing hint that an obesity vaccine targeting the hormone somatostatin may one day help humans to modulate body weight.

“The original impetus was to look at vaccines against the hormone somatostatin to produce lean meat in pigs and increase milk production in dairy cows,” Dr Keith Haffer (Braasch Biotech, Garretson, SD) said in an interview. “Extrapolation showed we could use a similar vaccine mechanism to fight obesity in an obese mouse model.”

Mouse Study

Researchers gave a vaccine containing purified chimeric somatostatin protein to obese mice on high-fat diets on day 1, followed by a smaller dose on day 22, and compared six-week outcomes with a control group. “While the control mice continued to gain weight, vaccinated mice lost up to 20% of their body weight within the first week and maintained the weight loss over the three-week period. We gave them two vaccinations, and each vaccination caused weight loss.”

According to Haffer, the vaccine works like any other vaccine in that the body produces immune responses against the antigen contained in the vaccine. What’s different, however, is that the new vaccine’s effect tapers off rather quickly. “Every vaccination is considered to be its own vaccine,” Haffer said. “There’s no memory response to the somatostatin antigen, which makes it totally unique in vaccines. By the intramuscular route, which is how most vaccinations are given, the maximum response occurred about two weeks after vaccination. And it’s gone by four weeks. So a second dose is administered at that time.”

Haffer says his first study, published online July 9, 2012 in the Journal of Animal Science and Biotechnology, prompted worldwide media attention. Some outlets “called it ‘the flab jab,’ which we think is derogatory, but it certainly gets the point across that there could be a vaccine against obesity.”

Haffer said he thinks human trials could be ready within a year, although he also believes an intermediate animal model will be needed for toxicology studies.

One corollary to the weight loss is that insulin levels are unaffected. “We checked insulin levels, and all the mice insulin levels were the same after vaccinations. That’s a very interesting concept.”

Commenting on the study, Dr Sabyasachi Sen (Baystate Medical Center, Amherst, MA) cautioned: “One-shot solutions for complex human diseases rarely work. A vaccine may be possible, but diabetes and obesity are multifaceted diseases. . . . The issue is that this vaccine may not just target one entity, [insulinlike growth factor-1] IGF-1. Somatostatin will affect all the hormones in the body, including the good ones, like normal growth hormone. It’s going to reduce tons of other hormones that we need for everyday living. That’s the problem: it may not be reducing only one of the peaks of the total iceberg.”

But Dr Erik Hemmingsson (Karolinska Institutet, Stockholm, Sweden) thought that antiobesity vaccines may be exactly what the field needs, calling them a “hot topic.”

“We need this kind of outside-the-box thinking. We can’t continue these increasing rates of bariatric surgery, which is a measure of our desperation that we don’t have better therapies. Perhaps this is one more therapy for individualized treatment that might be different for me and for you and for everyone else.”


Misinformation and its correction: continued influence and successful debiasing

Wednesday, September 26th, 2012 (last updated)

The widespread prevalence and persistence of misinformation in contemporary societies, such as the false belief that there is a link between childhood vaccinations and autism, is a matter of public concern. For example, the myths surrounding vaccinations, which prompted some parents to withhold immunization from their children, have led to a marked increase in vaccine-preventable disease, as well as unnecessary public expenditure on research and public-information campaigns aimed at rectifying the situation.

We first examine the mechanisms by which such misinformation is disseminated in society, both inadvertently and purposely. Misinformation can originate from rumors but also from works of fiction, governments and politicians, and vested interests. Moreover, changes in the media landscape, including the arrival of the Internet, have fundamentally influenced the ways in which information is communicated and misinformation is spread.

We next move to misinformation at the level of the individual, and review the cognitive factors that often render misinformation resistant to correction. We consider how people assess the truth of statements and what makes people believe certain things but not others. We look at people’s memory for misinformation and answer the questions of why retractions of misinformation are so ineffective in memory updating and why efforts to retract misinformation can even backfire and, ironically, increase misbelief. Though ideology and personal worldviews can be major obstacles for debiasing, there nonetheless are a number of effective techniques for reducing the impact of misinformation, and we pay special attention to these factors that aid in debiasing.

Misinformation and its correction: continued influence and successful debiasing Click here

Psychological Science in the Public Interest

86% decline in measles cases brings Western Pacific Region closer than ever to measles elimination

Monday, September 24th, 2012 (last updated)

Measles cases are at an historic low in the Western Pacific Region and it’s making excellent progress towards eliminating the measles virus, according to the founding partners of the Measles & Rubella Initiative.

Efforts to reach more children with measles vaccine have rapidly reduced measles cases in the Region by 86 percent between 2008 and 2011. China, which accounts for 75 percent of the region’s population, has reported a 92 percent drop in cases as a result of its nationwide measles immunization effort.

These findings were confirmed at a recent meeting of the World Health Organization’s Western Pacific Region’s Technical Advisory Group (TAG) for immunization. The TAG found that 32 of the 37 countries and areas in the region might already be free of endemic measles.

“This year’s regional measles trends are equally encouraging, with cases down 69 percent from January to June 2012 compared to the same period in 2011,” said Dr. Stephen Cochi, Senior Advisor at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and a member of the TAG.  Regional measles surveillance data shows there were 16,431 cases from January – June of 2011 and just 5,150 in the same period of 2012.

“Countries in the Western Pacific Region are also building an impressive disease surveillance network to quickly identify measles cases and prevent outbreaks,” said Dr. Peter Strebel, Medical Officer at the World Health Organization. “This network includes laboratories that can identify different measles virus types and track spread of viruses between countries.”

Report measles data