Archive for May, 2014

Exploring myeloma vaccine therapy

Saturday, May 31st, 2014 (last updated)

In this video from the Myeloma 2014 meeting in Boston, Dr. David Avigan, from the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, describes his latest research into cancer vaccines powered by so-called dendritic cells. He also discusses ongoing research into using these drugs together with approved immunomodulatory drugs, a combination which may offer new promise to attacking the toughest residual multiple myeloma.

Patient Power

European Commission increases contribution to GAVI Alliance replenishment

Friday, May 30th, 2014 (last updated)

José Manuel Barroso, the president of the European Commission, pledged on Tuesday to increase the European Union’s contribution to the GAVI Alliance Replenishment to $240 million for 2014-2020.

The announcement was made at the GAVI Alliance Replenishment launch event.

The pledge is the first response to the organization’s request for additional funding for its investment opportunity over the next five years and is a substantial increase over the $53 million the EU contributed in the previous period.

GAVI uses its funding to help countries immunize children. Full funding will give them the opportunity to immunize an additional 300 million children, saving six million lives.

“Today, less than 5% of children are fully protected with the 11 vaccines recommended by the World Health Organization,” Dr. Seth Berkley, the CEO of GAVI, said at the launch event in Brussels. “In the next period, we will be able to move from 5% to 50%.”

The Alliance model relies on contributions from developing countries, vaccine manufacturers and donors.

“This will also protect the investments that have been made and pave the way for sustainability,” Berkley said.

Mulatu Teshome, the president of Ethiopia, also spoke at the event on the effect investments in immunization have on developing countries.

“Just two weeks ago, African leaders promised to prioritize sustainable immunization programs,” Teshome said. “It clearly demonstrates the role that African leaders are playing in the GAVI Alliance.”

Vaccine News Daily & European Commission

Immune children aid malaria vaccine hunt

Thursday, May 29th, 2014 (last updated)

A group of children in Tanzania who are naturally immune to malaria are helping scientists to develop a new vaccine.

US researchers have found that they produce an antibody that attacks the malaria-causing parasite.

Injecting a form of this antibody into mice protected the animals from the disease.

The team, which published its results in the journal Science, said trials in primates and humans were now needed to fully assess the vaccine’s promise.

Prof Jake Kurtis, director of the Center for International Health Research at Rhode Island Hospital, Brown University School of Medicine, said: “I think there’s fairly compelling evidence that this is a bona fide vaccine candidate.

“However, it’s an incredibly difficult parasite to attack. It’s had millions of years of evolution to co-opt and adapt to our immune responses – it really is a formidable enemy.”

Trapped inside

The study began with a group of 1,000 children in Tanzania, who had regular blood samples taken in the first years of their lives.

A small number of these children – 6% – developed a naturally acquired immunity to malaria, despite living in an area where the disease was rife.

“There are some individuals who become resistant and there are some individuals who do not become resistant,” explained Prof Kurtis.

“We asked what were the specific antibodies expressed by resistant children that were not expressed by susceptible children.”

The team found that an antibody produced by the immune children hits the malaria parasite at a key stage in its life-cycle.

It traps the tiny organism in red blood cells, preventing it from bursting out and spreading throughout the body.

Tests, carried out in small groups of mice, suggest this antibody could act as a potential vaccine.

Prof Kurtis said: “The survival rate was over two-fold longer if the mice were vaccinated compared with unvaccinated – and the parasitemia (the number of parasites in the blood) were up to four-fold lower in the vaccinated mice.”

The team said it was encouraged by the results, but stressed more research was required.

Prof Kurtis said: “I am cautious. I’ve seen nothing so far in our data that would cause us to lose enthusiasm. However, it still needs to get through a monkey study and the next phase of human trials.”

This latest study is one of many avenues being explored in the race to find a malaria vaccine.

The most advanced is the RTS,S vaccine, developed by GlaxoSmithKline. The drug company is seeking regulatory approval after Phase III clinical trials showed that the drug almost halved the number of malaria cases in young children and reduced by about 25% the number of malaria cases in infants.

Commenting on the research, Dr Ashley Birkett, director of the PATH Malaria Vaccine Initiative, said: “The identification of new targets on malaria parasites to support malaria vaccine development is a necessary and important endeavour.

“While these initial results are promising with respect to prevention of severe malaria, a lot more data would be needed before this could be considered a leading vaccine approach – either alone or in combination with other antigens.”

The most recent figures from the World Health Organization suggest the disease killed more than 600,000 people in 2012, with 90% of these deaths occurring in sub-Saharan Africa.

BBC News & Newsy Science

In Africa many mothers don’t give children real names until they have survived measles

Wednesday, May 28th, 2014 (last updated)

Measles, a viral respiratory infection, killed over 500,000 children in 2003, more than any other vaccine-preventable disease. The measles death toll in Africa is so high – every minute one child dies – that many mothers don’t give children real names until they have survived the disease. Measles weakens the immune system and renders children very susceptible to fatal complications from diarrhoea, pneumonia and malnutrition. Those that survive may suffer blindness, deafness or brain damage.


Unicef & Refutations to Anti-Vaccine Memes

Whooping cough awareness video featuring Dana, Toni, and David McCaffery

Tuesday, May 27th, 2014 (last updated)

Dana Elizabeth McCaffery died in March 2009 at 4 weeks of age from whooping cough (pertussis).
Her parents Toni and David shot a moving video in Lennox Head, their hometown, on their 15th wedding anniversary for their little girl.

You can view the video on Vaccine Hub: The McCafferys’ Story.

whooping cough

Vaccine Hub (

What’s the real story on vaccines?

Monday, May 26th, 2014 (last updated)

What’s the real story on vaccines?


Sophie Blackall and daughter Olive draw their week in India

Sunday, May 25th, 2014 (last updated)

Beloved illustrator Sophie Blackall travelled with her daughter, Olive, to India to meet with families, and see how the country is improving children’s health. They illustrated some of their impressions, as only they can… Have a look and visit our website:

Measles & Rubella Initiative

The power of vaccines

Saturday, May 24th, 2014 (last updated)

Every 20 seconds a child dies from a vaccine preventable disease. That’s over 1.5 million children a year.

The infographic below shows the startling statistics, and tells you more about a campaign to give children, no matter where they’re from, access to the vaccinations that will help them live a long and healthy life.

The power of vaccines


This is why we vaccinate: polio survivor Marion Croft discusses the long term effects of the infection

Friday, May 23rd, 2014 (last updated)

Learn firsthand from polio survivor Marion Croft about what it was like to contract polio as a child and to live with its disabling effects.

Sanofi Pasteur Canada

Roche gets oncology boost with cancer vaccine

Thursday, May 22nd, 2014 (last updated)

Roche’s most advanced experimental cancer immunotherapy has had impressive results in a small Phase I trial, reducing tumour size in half of the patients.

In data to be fully revealed at the ASCO meeting later this month – where cancer immunotherapies will be well-represented – MPDL3280A will be shown to have shrunk the tumours of ten out of 20 advanced bladder cancer patients with PD-L1 positive tumours by at least 30 per cent.

Sandra Horning, Roche’s chief medical officer, tells Reuters: “A 50% response rate is quite remarkable and it certainly compares favourably with what we and others have seen with immunotherapy for other tumour types.”

With specific advances in bladder cancer few and far between in recent years, Roche’s head of global medical affairs oncology, Niko Andre, says he is particularly excited about the new data on MPDL3280A.

The median time to response in this Phase I trial was 43 days, and Horning says: “To see an early response with immunotherapy is a very notable finding.”

Anti-PDL1 therapies block signals from the programmed cell death ligand 1 (PD-L1) – signals which help tumours avoid detection by the body’s immune system.

This should in turn boost the chances of patients’ immune systems combating cancer, and this mechanism means successful cancer immunotherapy candidates are likely to be big sellers.

ASCO 2014