Archive for July, 2013

HPV fact checker

Wednesday, July 31st, 2013 (last updated)

The Human Papilloma Virus vaccine recommended for pre-sexually active boys and girls protects against the specific HPV strains responsible for cervical and oral cancers. It’s hoped this attention on HPV will help people spread the word and not the virus.

HPV Fact Checker from Lee Memorial Health System on Vimeo.

Lee Memorial Health System

HPV vaccine not reaching enough girls, CDC says

Tuesday, July 30th, 2013 (last updated)

The very low vaccination rate for teenage girls against the human papillomavirus — the most common sexually transmitted infection and a principal cause of cervical cancer — did not improve at all from 2011 to 2012, and health officials on Thursday said a survey found that doctors were often failing to bring it up or recommend it when girls came in for other reasons.

Only 33 percent of teenage girls had finished the required three doses of the vaccine in 2012, officials said, putting the United States close to the bottom of developed countries in coverage.

Dr. Thomas R. Frieden, head of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said on a call with reporters that coverage for girls “has not increased at all from one year to the next. Zero.” Coverage rates for new vaccines typically increase by about 10 percentage points a year, he said.

Experts began recommending in 2007 that all girls be vaccinated at age 11 or 12, though the vaccine is approved for children as young as 9. The same guidance was issued for boys in 2011. The virus causes about 19,000 cancers in women every year, and 8,000 in men, according to the C.D.C. Women most commonly get cervical cancer as a result of the virus, while men are most likely to get throat cancer.

Officials had suspected that parents were not getting their children vaccinated because the girls were older and going to the doctor less frequently, making it inconvenient to get all three doses.

But the results of a survey showed that teenagers were going to the doctor and getting other vaccines, just not the one that inoculates against HPV. Parents often told researchers that their doctor did not mention the HPV vaccine. If teenage girls had gotten the HPV vaccine at the same time they got another vaccine, the coverage rate for at least one dose would be almost double what it actually is, Dr. Frieden said.

“The doctor is the single most influential factor that determines whether kids get vaccinated,” he said.

Dr. Thomas K. McInerny, the president of the American Academy of Pediatrics, exhorted doctors to urge parents to get their children vaccinated. He suggested sending reminders by text message and having nurses ask during visits if children had been immunized.

“Parents trust your opinion more than anyone else’s when it comes to immunizations,” Dr. McInerny said. “We have a powerful tool to prevent cancer. Let’s use it.”

Officials said that cost was not a major barrier, since many private insurers now covered the vaccine and a federal program made it free for those without insurance. Parents used to say that they worried getting the vaccine might give girls a green light for sex, but Dr. McInerny said that worry had become less common.

HPV vaccine not reaching enough girls, CDC says

Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR) & The New York Times

Meningitis B vaccine rejected in the UK

Monday, July 29th, 2013 (last updated)

The first vaccine to protect against meningitis B has been rejected for use.

The Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) says there are a lot of unanswered questions about the vaccine. It says there is not evidence that Bexsero, developed by the pharmaceutical firm Novartis, will protect children well enough to justify routine vaccination.

It also questions whether the vaccine would be cost effective if adopted by the NHS.

Campaigners, who have been campaigning for the vaccine since it was licensed in January, say the decision is a severe blow for those fighting the disease.

Brain damage

Meningitis B is the most common form of meningitis in the UK, affecting an average of 1,870 people each year, including children under five who are most at risk from the disease. One in 10 people who contract meningitis B die from it and up to one in four are left with severe after affects such as brain damage or limb loss.

Bexsero is the first vaccine against meningococcal B meningitis to receive a marketing licence for use in the UK  .

Experts say it should protect against 73% of the different strains of meningitis B.

The UK has one of the highest incidence rates of meningitis B in the world.

The JCVI says that on the basis of the available evidence, routine infant or toddler immunisation using Bexsero is highly unlikely to be cost effective whatever the cost of the vaccine based on current thresholds.

‘We lack important evidence’

The director of immunisation at the Department of Health, Professor David Salisbury, says in a statement: “This is a very difficult situation where we have a new vaccine against Meningitis B but we lack important evidence.

“We need to know how well it will protect, how long it will protect and if it will stop the bacteria from spreading from person to person. We need to work with the scientific community and the manufacturer to find ways to resolve these uncertainties so that we can come to a clear answer.”

WebMD & BBC World News Watch

Discovery of white blood cell type could result in improved vaccines

Sunday, July 28th, 2013 (last updated)

The recent discovery a new class of white blood cells in human gut and lung tissues that fight harmful fungal and bacterial infections could reveal new targets for vaccine development.

Scientists at A*STAR’s Singapore Immunology Network discovered a new subset of dendritic cells, called CD11b+ DCs, which are able to active a type of protective T cell that specializes in activating a response against harmful fungi or bacteria. The study, which was published in Immunity, also showed that the immune functions of CD11b+ DCs are similar in mice, allowing scientists to apply mouse studies to advanced clinical therapies for the human immune system.

“Life-threatening fungal infections have increased over the years yet treatment options remain limited,” Laurent Rénia, the acting executive director of SIgN, said. “This study demonstrates how fundamental research that deepens our understanding of the body’s immune system can translate into potential clinical applications that could save lives and impact healthcare.”

In the study, scientists with SIgN and Newcastle University found that mice lacking the CD11b+ DCs were unable to induce the protective Th17 response against the Aspergillus fumigatus fungal species. A. fumigatus is one of the most common fungal species in infections acquired from hospitals.

“As dendritic cells have the unique ability to ‘sense’ the type of pathogen present in order to activate the appropriate immune response, they are attractive targets to explore for vaccine development,” Florent Ginhoux, the study’s team leader, said. “This discovery revealed fresh inroads to better exploit dendritic cells for improved vaccine design against life-threatening fungal infections.”

The research could allow scientists to design more effective vaccines and targeted immunotherapies for diseases like hospital-acquired pneumonia.

Discovery of white blood cell type could result in improved vaccines Click here

Vaccine News Daily & Immunity

HPV vaccines: What providers need to know

Saturday, July 27th, 2013 (last updated)

In this video, Dr. Ina Park covers background information about HPV vaccines, and gives practical suggestions for assuring that patients are vaccinated as recommended.

Video production by Jon Schainker at Educational Technology Services, University of California, Berkeley.

California STD Prevention Training Center

Innovative storage device keeps vaccines at the appropriate temperture

Friday, July 26th, 2013 (last updated)

Innovative storage device keeps vaccines at the appropriate temperature

Diseases like polio have been eradicated in many countries through vaccination; however, they are still prominent in parts of the developing world. One of the greatest challenges in reaching children for vaccination is the sensitive nature of vaccines themselves, which spoil if not kept at precise temperatures from manufacture to use.

The Intellectual Ventures (IV) Lab team, in partnership with IV’s Global Good program, set out to address this by developing an insulated container to strengthen and extend vaccination services in developing countries. Our Passive Vaccine Storage Device is designed to keep vaccines at the appropriate temperatures for a month or more with repeat vaccine retrievals and no need for electricity.

Intellectual Ventures & TomoNews US

Do you believe in magic?

Thursday, July 25th, 2013 (last updated)

Professor Paul A. Offit is an American pediatrician specializing in infectious diseases and an expert on vaccines, immunology and virology. He is the co-inventor of a rotavirus vaccine that has been credited with saving hundreds of lives every day.

He is one of the most public faces of the scientific consensus that vaccines have no association with autism.

In Do You Believe in Magic?, Paul A. Offit, M.D., offers a scathing exposé of the alternative medicine industry, revealing how even though some popular therapies are remarkably helpful due to the placebo response, many of them are ineffective, expensive, and even deadly.

Dr. Offit reveals how alternative medicine—an unregulated industry under no legal obligation to prove its claims or admit its risks—can actually be harmful to our health.

Using dramatic real-life stories, Offit separates the sense from the nonsense, showing why any therapy—alternative or traditional—should be scrutinized. He also shows how some nontraditional methods can do a great deal of good, in some cases exceeding therapies offered by conventional practitioners.

An outspoken advocate for science-based health advocacy who is not afraid to take on media celebrities who promote alternative practices, Dr. Offit advises, “There’s no such thing as alternative medicine. There’s only medicine that works and medicine that doesn’t.”

The Wistar Institute

HPV vaccine found to help with cancers of throat

Wednesday, July 24th, 2013 (last updated)

A vaccine that protects women against cervical cancer also appears to protect them against throat cancers caused by oral sex, and presumably would protect men as well, according to a study released Thursday.

Rates of this throat cancer have soared in the past 30 years, particularly among heterosexual middle-aged men. About 70 percent of oropharyngeal cancers are now caused by sexually transmitted viruses, up from 16 percent in the 1980s. The epidemic made headlines last month when the actor Michael Douglas told a British newspaper that his throat cancer had come from performing oral sex.

Oncologists have assumed that the human papillomavirus vaccine, which is used to prevent cervical cancer, would also prevent this other type of cancer, but this was the first study to provide evidence.

“This is a very nice paper,” said Dr. Marshall R. Posner, medical director for head and neck cancer at Mount Sinai Medical Center in New York, who was not involved in the study. “We expected this — that’s why we want everyone to vaccinate both boys and girls. But there’s been no proof.”

The study, supported by the National Cancer Institute, found that Cervarix, made by GlaxoSmithKline, provided 93 percent protection against infection with the two types of human papillomavirus that cause most of the cancers.

“We were surprised at how big the effect was,” said Dr. Rolando Herrero, head of prevention for the World Health Organization’s International Agency for Research on Cancer, and the study’s lead author. “It’s a very powerful vaccine.”

The study was done with 5,840 women in Costa Rica who were ages 18 to 25 and sexually active when it began. Four years after being vaccinated, each gave a mouthwash gargle sample that picked up cells from deep in the throat. Only one woman who had received the vaccine was infected with the viruses HPV 16 or HPV 18, the cancer-causing types; 15 women who had gotten a placebo vaccine were infected.

Dr. Herrero explained some of the study’s limitations: when it began, it was concerned only with cervical cancer, so no men were enrolled. The women were initially tested to make sure they had no cervical infections, but were not tested for throat or anal infections. They gave oral samples only once, so it was not possible to say how many had persistent infections; most people clear HPV infections on their own, so only a tiny fraction lead to cancer. Four years is not long enough to know how many cancers would develop — but finding out for sure would require waiting 20 years or more, and ethical guidelines require that all women in the trial get regular examinations and that any suspicious lesions be destroyed before they turn cancerous. Also, only Cervarix, and not Merck’s similar Gardasil vaccine, was tested.

However, Dr. Herrero said, men would “probably” get the same protection as the women did, because the vaccine produces identical antibody levels in both sexes.

Dr. Posner said the large discrepancy in infection rates between those who got the vaccine and those who got placebo suggested that the data was “very reliable” even though the infections were detected far too early to produce cancers.

“What we don’t know,” he said, “is how long-term the protection is, or if re-vaccination is necessary.”

While cancers caused by smoking or drinking usually occur in the mouth, those caused by oral sex usually occur at the base of the tongue or deep in the folds of tonsillar tissue, and are hard to detect. They are more common among heterosexual men than among women or gay men; experts believe that is because vaginal fluid contains more virus than the surface of the penis.

Dr. Eric J. Moore, a Mayo Clinic surgeon specializing in these cancers, said the study was “very encouraging.”

“But remember,” he added. “It only works if you’re vaccinated prior to contracting the infection. Once you’re 40 and have had multiple sexual partners, it’s not going to help.”

HPV vaccine found to help with cancers of throat Click here

The New York Times & PLOS ONE

Aussie researchers “close” to malaria vaccine.

Tuesday, July 23rd, 2013 (last updated)

Australian researchers believe they are on the verge of developing a vaccine for malaria, which could save the lives of millions.

Researchers at Griffith University’s Institute for Glycomics have been able to induce malaria immunity in animals and are now moving onto first-stage human trials.

Around half the world’s population still lives with the deadly threat of malaria, despite advances in treatment and prevention.

Researcher Dr Danielle Stanisic from Griffith University says a malaria vaccine would massively improve public health worldwide.

“The results that we’ve seen in our rodent models are very promising and very exciting. We see complete protection against multiple strains and species of malaria.”

The new study introduced a holistic approach by working with an immune response to the whole malaria parasite, compared to previous studies that only focused on individual antigens on the parasite or the infected red blood cells.

Development of the vaccine is subject to further testing and it will be at least six years before it is widely available.

Aussie researchers ‘close’ to malaria vaccine

Griffith University & SBS World News Australia

Controversy surrounds Jenny McCarthy hire on ‘The View”

Monday, July 22nd, 2013 (last updated)

Actress Jenny McCarthy will be joining ABC’s “The View” in the Fall. The addition may have seemed innocuous at first, but has in fact resulted in a firestorm of controversy. Her appointment as a new host of “The View” is raising concerns in the health community.

At issue is this: McCarthy is an advocate for the idea that childhood vaccinations are the root cause of Autism, an idea that has been thoroughly discredited by the medical community. Moreover, in communities where vaccination rates have slipped, diseases that have long vanished are springing up again, like measles and whooping cough