Archive for September, 2013

New malaria vaccine passes first clinical tests

Thursday, September 19th, 2013 (last updated)

During tests of a new malaria vaccine, intravenous delivery and use of radiation-weakened parasites proved effective at preventing the disease in small groups of adults. Scientists irradiated billions of malaria parasites in lab-raised mosquitos and used them to create the vaccine. The promising results encourage further efforts to test the vaccine’s long-term protection and develop accessible delivery options for malaria hotspots in remote areas.

American Museum of Natural History

More measles vaccines could have prevented outbreaks

Wednesday, September 18th, 2013 (last updated)

This year is on track to be the worst for measles in more than a decade, according to new numbers released Thursday by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. And people who refuse to vaccinate their children are behind the increasing number of outbreaks, health officials say.

Source: – 22News

Historically, vaccines have had an unmatched impact on improving public health

Tuesday, September 17th, 2013 (last updated)

Christophe Weber (President, GSK Vaccines)

Question: Looking ahead, what are the biggest obstacles and exciting opportunities in the vaccine field?

Answer of Christophe Weber (President, GSK Vaccines):

No other health intervention is as simple, powerful and cost effective as a vaccine. In developed countries such as the United States, vaccinating the babies born each year saves $10 billion in direct medical costs and $33 billion in indirect costs. Vaccines have turned the tide against deadly diseases such as polio, small pox and neonatal tetanus, saving millions of lives.

Yet vaccines for some of the biggest health threats of our time remain elusive. Finding new vaccines against TB, HIV, cancer or dengue fever is scientifically challenging. How do you target a virus that attacks the immune system that should fight it, a human parasite that evades detection or cancerous cells with a vaccine?

Advances in science mean we may now be on the brink of another major breakthrough in vaccine science. GSK has spent almost thirty years cultivating a promising malaria vaccine candidate, RTS,S, which is now in late-stage trials in seven African countries. If ongoing trials and the required regulatory steps are completed successfully, it could be available from 2015 in certain African countries. A promising Sanofi vaccine candidate for dengue is currently in late-stage clinical trials. Given the huge burden of these diseases, if proven effective, the impact on public health could be dramatic.

Yet just as challenging as research for new vaccines is ensuring that the vaccines we already have are used to full effect. The recent resurgence of polio in Somalia reminds us that enough people need to be immunised or fragile gains can be lost. Around the world, 19,000 children still die every day from largely preventable causes.

GlaxoSmithKline and some of our industry colleagues have joined a campaign led by Bill Gates which has the aim of delivering the full benefits of immunisation to all people, regardless of where they are born, who they are or where they live, by 2020.

Countries are faced with a range of different barriers to vaccination. It may be a shortage of healthcare workers, inadequate financial resources or in some areas a lack of information about disease and preventive vaccines. We are working to overcome each of these barriers in partnership with our industry, other business leaders, governments and non-governmental organizations.

Ultimately success in making vaccines accessible and in developing new vaccines will depend on building and expanding these partnerships in our community and around the world. Just as critical is ensuring that health remains a focus of governments everywhere, so the gains we make against disease are never lost. Only then can we ensure that the transformative effect that vaccines have had on global health in the past continues long into the future.


Get ready for the flu season at

Monday, September 16th, 2013 (last updated)

Building upon its efforts to provide greater access to vaccines and other health care services for populations in need, Walgreens is partnering with the United Nations Foundation this flu season, to help provide up to 3 million life-saving vaccines to children in developing countries through a donation to the Foundation’s Shot@Life campaign.


Free Vaccine Mobile App: “Vaccines on the Go: What You Should Know.”

Sunday, September 15th, 2013 (last updated)

Paul Offit, MD, Director of the Vaccine Education Center at The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, introduces the Center’s newest resource — a vaccine mobile app for iPhones.

Titled “Vaccines on the Go: What You Should Know,” this free app provides vaccine information whenever and wherever it is needed. For more information or to download the app, go to

Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia

Outbreaks make a case for vaccinations

Saturday, September 14th, 2013 (last updated)

A measles outbreak in a vaccination-wary North Texas megachurch and soaring rates of whooping cough across the state are drawing renewed calls for immunization legislation, which some lawmakers and medical professionals argue would help the state prevent and respond to public health crises.

“Sometimes we as a society are not going to be convinced of something that makes sense unless we experience a loss,” said Dr. Jason Terk, a pediatrician who serves on the Texas Medical Association’s council on legislation.

For at least a decade, the association has called on lawmakers to change the consent process for the state’s immunization registry, ImmTrac, to opt-out from opt-in to encourage retention of more records, reduce operating costs and protect more Texans against preventable diseases.

But conservative Republicans have consistently rejected the legislation, saying that it does not adequately protect patients’ privacy or liberty.

“That way if something were to happen, they might have some clue that there had been a compromise to their privacy,” she said.

Although 95 percent of Texans informed of the registry choose to participate, many do not know it exists, Terk said.

The MMR vaccine has nearly eradicated measles in the United States, but a persistent myth linking the vaccine to autism has led some communities to resist vaccination. For example, Texas has seen a rise over the last five years — to 0.57 percent from 0.23 percent — in parents seeking exemptions for children from immunizations required to attend public school.

In Tarrant County, an unvaccinated man contracted measles abroad and spread the disease to 20 people at Eagle Mountain International Church who had not been vaccinated or had not received a second dose of the MMR vaccine, as recommended. A senior pastor, Terri Copeland Pearsons, has voiced concerns about vaccines.

The Department of State Health Services also issued a health alert this month to promote whooping cough vaccinations. As the effectiveness of that vaccine wanes over time, outbreaks occur every few years when a population becomes vulnerable again. There have been 2,000 diagnosed cases of whooping cough so far this year in Texas, and two infants too young to be vaccinated have died.

“This is extremely concerning,” Dr. Lisa Cornelius, the department’s infectious diseases medical officer, said in a statement. “If cases continue to be diagnosed at the current rate, we will see the most Texas cases since the 1950s.”

Russell Jones, chief epidemiologist at the Tarrant County Health Department, said his first response to reports of a vaccine-preventable disease would be to check ImmTrac to determine whether the person was properly immunized.

If vaccination records are robust in a particular community, “you get a sense of how well your immunization programs are doing,” he said, adding, “It’s going to take a while longer before it’s really complete and can tell us a lot.”

Outbreaks make a case for vaccinations

The Texas Tribune

An implantable vaccine to treat melanoma begins Phase I clinical trials

Friday, September 13th, 2013 (last updated)

A cross-disciplinary team of Harvard scientists, engineers, and clinicians announced today that they have begun a Phase I clinical trial of an implantable vaccine to treat melanoma, the most lethal form of skin cancer.

Most therapeutic cancer vaccines available require doctors to first remove the patient’s immune cells, then reprogram them and reintroduce them back into the body. The new approach, which was first reported to eliminate tumors in mice in Science Translational Medicine in 2009, instead uses a disk-like sponge about the size of a fingernail that is made from FDA-approved polymers. The sponge is implanted under the skin, and is designed to recruit and reprogram a patient’s own immune cells “on site,” instructing them to travel through the body, home in on cancer cells, then kill them.

The technology was initially designed to target cancerous cells in skin, but might have application to other cancers. In the preclinical study reported in Science Translational Medicine, 50 percent of mice treated with two doses of the vaccine — mice that would have otherwise died from melanoma within about 25 days — showed complete tumor regression.

“Our vaccine was made possible by combining a wide range of biomedical expertise that thrives in Boston and Cambridge,” said Mooney, who specializes in the design of biomaterials for tissue engineering and drug delivery. “It reflects the bioinspired engineering savvy and technology development focus of engineers and scientists at the Wyss Institute and Harvard SEAS, as well as the immunological and clinical expertise of the researchers and clinicians at Dana-Farber and Harvard Medical School.”

“This is expected to be the first of many new innovative therapies made possible by the Wyss Institute’s collaborative model of translational research that will enter human clinical trials,” said Wyss’ founding director, Don Ingber of Children’s Hospital Boston, who is also the Judah Folkman Professor of Vascular Biology at Harvard Medical School and a professor of bioengineering at SEAS. “It validates our approach, which strives to move technologies into the clinical space much faster than would be possible in a traditional academic environment. It’s enormously gratifying to see one of our first technologies take this giant leap forward.”

Harvard Gazette

Russian scientists working on anti-smoking vaccine

Thursday, September 12th, 2013 (last updated)

Russian scientists working on anti-smoking vaccine

Russian scientists are currently working on the first ever vaccine which could help quit smoking; it may be available in pharmacies in as early as five years.

Dmitry Ovchinnikov, Deputy Director General of the company developing the drug, Selecta RUS confirmed: “We’re currently going through the second phase of clinical trials.”

Selecta RUS is a subsidiary of an American innovation company which opened the Khimki branch in 2012. Ovchinnikov said that development of the ‘anti-tobacco’ and other vaccines was moved from the U.S. to Russia, as “experts of required qualification work here.” Favorable financing conditions were also a factor: for instance, the vaccine project has received a grant from Russia’s Ministry of Industry and Trade.

The scientists noted that “existing methods of curing tobacco addiction are ineffective,” adding that the new vaccine will be a breakthrough. The drug makes recipient’s body start producing antibodies which block nicotine before it reaches the brain.

Khimki lab scientists are working on a molecular “nano-container,” which can precisely deliver vaccine components in cells which are responsible for launching immune reaction. Produced anti-bodies bind nicotine contained in blood; the resulting complex becomes too large to bypass the blood–brain barrier, which restrict diffusion of dangerous microscopic objects, such as bacteria and harmful molecules. As a result, nicotine cannot access the brain’s “pleasure center” – thus smoking ceases to bring the feeling of euphoria and satisfaction. The chain of pathological tobacco addiction is thus broken.

Ovchinnikov added that Selecta RUS scientists are also working on other vaccines against other afflictions such as melanoma, type 1 diabetes and hepatitis B.

“Operation of this laboratory is a vivid example of technology transfer to Russia,” said Sergei Filippov, representative of Rusnano. He added that Rusnano owns 12% of SelectaBiosciences, the American company which owns Selecta RUS

Itar Tass

One in 10 children with measles end up in hospital

Wednesday, September 11th, 2013 (last updated)

This NHS campaign was launched four years ago to encourage parents to protect their children from the threat of measles and to ensure they receive the MMR jab.

One in 10 children with measles end up in hospital

NHS London

Hepatitis B vaccination cuts deaths from liver disease, cancer

Tuesday, September 10th, 2013 (last updated)

Taiwanese researchers report a 90 percent reduction in deaths from complications of hepatitis B since the country began its infant vaccination program in 1984.
Vaccinations have also decreased the spread of hepatitis B, which can cause liver damage, liver cancer and a deadly reaction in babies called infant fulminant hepatitis, the researchers said.
“Immunization has provided 30-year protection against acute hepatitis and end-stage chronic liver diseases, including cirrhosis and liver cancer,” said lead researcher Chien-Jen Chen, a vice president at the Genomics Research Center at Academia Sinica in Taipei.

Hepatitis B vaccination cuts deaths from liver disease, cancer

Chen said there are 350 million chronic carriers of hepatitis B in the world, with the highest prevalence in the Asia-Pacific region and sub-Saharan Africa. The infection can be spread from mothers to newborns.

“All newborns in high-prevalence areas should be vaccinated to reduce the liver disease burden and health care costs,” he said.

The report was published in the Sept. 4 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association.

For the study, Chen’s team looked at the 30-year outcomes of the immunization program in Taiwan. For the first two years, the immunization program covered only newborns of mothers who carried the disease. Then it expanded to all newborns.

In July 1987, vaccinations were extended to cover preschoolers. Between 1988 and 1999, the program was extended to cover all elementary school children.

The rate of vaccinations for those born from 1984 to 2010 was about 89 percent to 97 percent, the researchers found.

For those born between 1977 and 2004, a more than 90 percent reduction occurred in deaths from chronic liver disease and liver cancer, and there were 80 percent fewer cases of liver cancer overall.

Deaths from infant fulminant hepatitis B also decreased 90 percent.

Hepatitis B is spread when blood, semen or other body fluids infected with the virus enters the body of an uninfected person, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The infection can be transmitted from an infected mother to her newborn. The hepatitis B virus also can be transmitted during sex with an infected person or by sharing needles, syringes or other drug-injection equipment.

Sharing razors or toothbrushes with an infected person also can transmit the disease, as can direct contact with blood or open sores of an infected person, according to the CDC.