Archive for May, 2014

Mayo Clinic trial: Massive blast of measles vaccine wipes out cancer

Wednesday, May 21st, 2014 (last updated)

Mayo Clinic researchers announced a landmark study where a massive dose of the measles vaccine, enough to inoculate 10 million people, wiped out a Minnesota woman’s incurable blood cancer.

The Mayo Clinic conducted the clinical trial last year using virotherapy. The method discovered the measles virus wiped out multiple myeloma cancer calls. Researchers engineered the measles virus (MV-NIS) in a single intravenous dose, making it selectively toxic to cancer cells.

Stacy Erholtz, 49, of Pequot Lakes, was one of two patients in the study who received the dose last year, and after 10 years with multiple myeloma has been clear of the disease for over six months.

“My mindset was I didn’t have any other options available, so why wouldn’t I do it? I had to have failed all conventional treatment to do that trial. That actually happened last March,” Erholtz told. “It was the easiest treatment by far with very few side effects. I hope it’s the future of treating cancer infusion.”

Steven Russell, a Mayo Clinic hematologist, spearheaded the study and said the concept was previously tested in mice, but never in humans.

“It’s a huge milestone in that regard,” said Russell. “We have known for some time viruses act like a vaccine. If you inject a virus into a tumor you can provoke the immune system to destroy that cancer and other cancers. This is different, it puts the virus into bloodstream, it infects and destroys the cancer, debulks it, and then the immune system can come and mop up the residue.”

Two multiple myeloma patients were chosen because they are immune-compromised, and can’t fight off the measles before it has time to attack cancer. Both had limited previous exposure to measles, and therefore fewer antibodies to the virus, and essentially had no remaining treatment options. Of the two subjects in the study, Stacy was the only to reach full remission. The other patient’s cancer returned after nine months.

Russell believes it’s still a medical milestone, and he hopes his team can one day transform this research into a single shot cure.

“It’s like a call to action. It’s not just good for our virus. It’s good for every virus everybody’s developing as a cancer therapy. We know this can happen,” said Russell.

Mayo researchers are also testing the measles virus’s effectiveness at fighting ovarian, brain, head and neck cancers and mesothelioma. They are also developing other viruses that seem to have potential to kill cancer cells.

“I think it’s just remarkable. Who would have thought?” said Erholtz, who said she returns to the Mayo in June for a check up.

The Mayo is moving immediately into a phase two clinical trial involving more patients with a goal of FDA approval within four years.

Patients interested in the upcoming clinic trial using measles vaccines to treat cancer can inquire here.

USA Today

Vaccines, thimerosal, MMR, mercury not associated with autism

Tuesday, May 20th, 2014 (last updated)

What it says on the tin: A new meta-analysis analyzing data from studies involving 1.3 million children is entitled “Vaccines are not associated with autism.”

If that’s not clear enough, author Luke Taylor and colleagues, who looked at five studies covering 1.26 million children and another five case-control studies of 9920 children, also give the (pre-press) bullet-point version of their findings, published in the journal Vaccine:

  • There was no relationship between vaccination and autism (OR: 0.99; 95% CI: 0.92 to 1.06).
  • There was no relationship between vaccination and ASD (autism spectrum disorder) (OR: 0.91; 95% CI: 0.68 to 1.20).
  • There was no relationship between [autism/ASD] and MMR (OR: 0.84; 95% CI: 0.70 to 1.01).
  • There was no relationship between [autism/ASD] and thimerosal (OR: 1.00; 95% CI: 0.77 to 1.31).
  • There was no relationship between [autism/ASD] and mercury (Hg) (OR: 1.00; 95% CI: 0.93 to 1.07).

Findings of this meta-analysis suggest that vaccinations are not associated with the development of autism or autism spectrum disorder.

It’s not that we didn’t know that already. But a meta-analysis takes the existing research and grinds the numbers and gives the bigger picture of what the aggregate of the findings tells us. Indeed, looking a the odds ratios the authors report–in which 1 means no effect of vaccine or other variable on odds and less than 1 means reduced odds–the data suggest reduced autism risk among children who received the MMR vaccine.

The articles included in their review were any prospective (planned before data collection) or retrospective (planned after data collection) cohort and case-control (pairing study participants with and without a specific variable for comparison) studies. They excluded studies that used the US Vaccine Adverse Events Reporting System as their population because, as the authors note, there is a limitation of:

high risk of bias including unverified reports, underreporting, inconsistent data quality, absence of an unvaccinated control group and many reports being filed in connection with litigation.

There’s good reason for that exclusion–this is, after all, a database that has included reports that vaccines turned people into superheroes.

According to the paper authors, this meta-analysis is the only one that has quantified the data from the cohort and case-control studies, crunched the numbers, and turned up these meta-results.

As the researchers note, their conclusions agree with those of 11 of 12 systematic reviews addressing the same question. The authors state that they have no conflicts of interest.

vaccines do not cause autism


Close the door to cancer

Monday, May 19th, 2014 (last updated)

Over 14 million people will be infected with HPV this year. HPV can cause cancers that affect both men and women. Prevent HPV -related cancers by vaccinating your boys and girls ages 11 to 12. Talk to your child’s doctor about how you can close the door to cancer today


World Health Organization declared polio ‘public health ermergency’

Sunday, May 18th, 2014 (last updated)

The World Health Organization warned on Monday May 5th that polio has reemerged as a public health emergency, after new cases of the crippling disease began surfacing and spreading across borders from countries like Syria and Pakistan

Question: Is there any danger in getting a second polio inoculation if I cannot remember if I got one many years ago (1950s, postwar Japan)?

No. There is no harm in receiving a booster of the polio vaccine.

In the United States, widespread vaccinations of polio began in the 1950s. Back then, the vaccine was given as a much-weakened live form of the virus via oral drops or in a sugar cube. That’s the method still used today in the developing world.

However, in this country, doctors use an injected version that contains a killed form of the virus. Because the polio virus infects you through your intestines, the oral vaccine is much more protective. But the oral form is no longer given in the United States because polio is not a threat here any more, and because there is a one-in-a-million chance that even a weak, live virus can mutate to become harmful again.

Question: I was vaccinated against polio as a child but am now over 50 years old and will be traveling to Pakistan. Do I need a booster dose of the vaccine or am I protected?

You should receive a booster. This is the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommendation for travel to Pakistan and several other countries:

“Single lifetime additional I.P.V. (inactivated polio vaccine) dose recommended for adults who received routine vaccination series as children; routine series recommended for unvaccinated or incompletely vaccinated children and adults and those with unknown vaccination status.”

Question: Two of my grandchildren are going to Israel in June. Do they have to worry about getting the polio vaccine?

The answer depends on the age of the person traveling. The C.D.C. does not recommend boosters for adults unless they are traveling to a country where polio is circulating (or unless they work in a lab or are a health care worker taking care of polio patients.) That list currently includes Israel and could expand any time, since the virus is on the move.

If children or young adults traveling to one of these countries have already had the vaccine, they most likely do not need a booster. But the C.D.C.’s age recommendations are rough guidelines and everyone’s immune system is different. If there are any concerns, consult a doctor, preferably a travel medicine specialist.

AFP News Agency & The New York Times

Vaccinate every child: Joel’s story

Saturday, May 17th, 2014 (last updated)

When we met Joel in Angola, his tiny body had been weakened by meningitis and measles. He was stiff with pain and was staring blankly at the wall. He had just gone blind.

UNICEF is in Angola right now, working with local organisations, as well as traditional and religious leaders, to reach areas with high numbers of children like Joel who have not been vaccinated.


Pneumococcal vaccines may be more effective among frail people then previously believed

Friday, May 16th, 2014 (last updated)

As individuals age, they tend to develop a growing number of health problems, such as issues with blood sugar, blood pressure, bone mineral density, cognitive abilities, mobility and more. To maintain quality of life, preventative health care needs to become a priority for these patients. That includes administering vaccines to protect them against diseases such as shingles, the flu and pneumonia. Some doctors question the value of immunization among patients who are frail and elderly because they are unsure of whether their immune systems are strong enough to mount a sufficient response. However, new research from the University of New South Wales in Australia indicated that pneumococcal vaccines may be more effective among these individuals than previously thought, as published in the journal PLoS One.

Pneumococcal vaccines

‘Vaccination … is low hanging fruit’

To find out whether pneumococcal vaccines were effective among frail and elderly patients who were hospitalized, the authors of the new study conducted a clinical trial in which they administered one of two pneumococcal inoculations to study participants: 23-valent pneumococcal polysaccharide vaccine or seven-valent pneumococcal conjugate vaccine. Results showed that immune responses were robust, even among those subjects who had low baseline immunity. The researchers also concluded that the protective effect was stronger when both vaccines were given together in sequence. “This study offers hope for novel combinations of the old and new vaccines for prevention of pneumococcal disease in this vulnerable group,” researcher Raina MacIntyre said in a statement. “Vaccination against preventable diseases is low-hanging fruit as a strategy for healthy aging, and no elderly person should be denied vaccination simply because immunity wanes with age.” MacIntyre’s new study was driven in part by previous findings showing that, in Australia, the rate of vaccine recommendation to patients who were either older than 80 years or living with dementia was suboptimal. In the U.S., experts recommend inoculation against pneumococcal disease for any adult ages 65 years or older, particularly if he or she is living with HIV/AIDS, cancer, cochlear implants, cerebrospinal fluid leaks, cardiovascular disease, kidney disease, liver disease, asthma, alcoholism or diabetes. People who lack a functional spleen, smoke cigarettes or live in long-term care facilities should also be vaccinated against pneumococcal bacteria. These pathogens are associated with pneumonia, meningitis, septicemia and infections of the ears and sinus passages.


Communicating science: vaccines & autism Dispelling the myths

Thursday, May 15th, 2014 (last updated)

Creative Mind at Brown

Anti-vaccination propaganda mailing envelope

Wednesday, May 14th, 2014 (last updated)

anti-vaccination propaganda

British pictorial envelopes of the 19th century espoused propaganda for a variety of causes: antislavery, anti-tax, and anti–Sunday trading to name just a few. Always highly political, the best known missives of propaganda were the “anti-Gladstones” directed against Queen Victoria’s 4-time Prime Minister, whom the Queen described as a madman. None, however, were presented with such strong imagery and vitriol as those of the anti-vaccination movements. The image on the cover depicts the strong arm of the law, “Vaccination Act for the Jennerization of Disease” in hand, restraining the mother as the skeleton administers the smallpox vaccine to the infant.

Vaccine opponents can be immune to education

Tuesday, May 13th, 2014 (last updated)

Vaccines will prevent the deaths of tens of thousands of children born this year over their lifetimes. So why are potentially dangerous numbers of parents in some states opting out of one of the great achievements of modern medicine?

One explanation is that these parents are misinformed, seduced by the false claims like the myth that vaccines cause autism. If so, giving them accurate information might change their minds about protecting their children against communicable diseases like measles — a near-eradicated disease that has flared anew.

That’s apparently the assumption behind the educational mandates that some states are creating or considering for parents who want exemptions from vaccine requirements.

But I recently conducted a study with several colleagues in which we found that parents with mixed or negative feelings toward vaccines actually became less likely to say they would vaccinate a future child after receiving information debunking the myth that vaccines cause autism.

Surprising as this may seem, our finding is consistent with a great deal of research on how people react to their beliefs being challenged. People frequently resist information that contradicts their views, such as corrective information— for example, by bringing to mind reasons to maintain their belief — and in some cases actually end up believing it more strongly as a result.

To find out if this pattern holds for vaccines, my colleagues Jason Reifler, Sean Richey, Gary Freed and I surveyed a nationally representative group of parents with children living at home in 2011, randomly assigning some to get scientific information debunking the vaccine-autism link or other pro-vaccine messages, and others to a control group.

The problem in this case wasn’t getting parents to believe the facts. Our results indicate that parents who saw the corrective information were less likely to believe in the vaccines-autism myth than those who didn’t. It seems that raising the topic may have instead prompted skeptical parents to think of other concerns or hesitations they have about vaccines to defend their views on the topic.

In addition, our results show that other types of messages used by public health agencies — information about disease risks, a dramatic narrative and images of sick children — were also ineffective.

These findings, which were recently published in the journal Pediatrics, suggest some caution is necessary among those proposing parental educational mandates, which were recently  enacted in Oregon.

The sorts of beliefs that contribute to high vaccine exemption rates in some states aren’t necessarily about facts at all and can’t be easily legislated away.

A more promising approach would require parents to consult with their health care provider, as the Oregon law also allows them to do. Parents name their children’s doctor as their most trusted source of vaccine information. That trust might allow doctors to do what evidence alone cannot: persuade parents to protect their children as well as yours and mine.


The New York Times

Anti atherosclerosis vaccine to prevent heart attacks

Monday, May 12th, 2014 (last updated)

Swedish scientists who have developed a vaccine that has shown tremendous promise against coronary artery diseases and strokes are keen to test it in India.
Atherosclerosis is a serious condition where arteries become clogged up by fatty substances, such as cholesterol called plaque. They cause arteries to harden and narrow thereby blocking the blood supply to the heart – triggering a heart attack or a stroke in the brain.
The vaccine prevents accumulation of the plaques.

Carani B Sanjeevi from the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm is now in final stage talks with Indian medical institutes to test the vaccine on Indians.
Sanjeevi from the Institute’s department of medicine and advisor to its innovation office wants the vaccine to be specific to Indians who are known to be genetically prone to heart attack.
Speaking to TOI at the India Unlimited Festival organized by the Indian embassy in Sweden, Sanjeevi said “The trials of this highly promising vaccine may soon take place in India. We are in discussions with top medical institutes who will jointly develop the vaccine with Swedish researchers specifically for the Indian market. The vaccine stops plaque from building thereby cutting down on inflammation and ultimately preventing people from coronary artery disease.”
As many as 45 million coronary artery disease cases were diagnosed in India in 2010 and the figure is expected to go up to 60 million by 2015.

Vaccination against the receptor that the T cells use to recognize bad LDL cholesterol can block the immune reaction and reduce the disease by 70%. The vaccine has been successfully tested on animals and the researchers are now hoping to see if it can be developed into a treatment for patients with a high risk of myocardial infarction and stroke.
A recent study by researchers at the Swedish medical university shows that the immune defence’s T cells can attack the bad LDL cholesterol and thereby cause an inflammation that leads to atherosclerosis. By producing a vaccine against the T cell receptors, the researchers have managed to inhibit the development of atherosclerosis in animals.
Cholesterol is transported in the blood in LDL particles. LDL activates the immune defence and triggers an inflammation in the blood vessels that leads to atherosclerosis. When the atherosclerotic plaque finally ruptures, a blood clot is formed that in turn can cause a heart attack or stroke.
It was previously thought that the inflammation in the blood vessels arises when the T cells react to oxidized LDL particles located in the atherosclerotic plaque. The team at Karolinska Institute has found that the opposite is true, namely that the T cells react to components in the normal LDL particles and that they no longer recognize LDL once it has been oxidized.
“Since reactions to LDL can be dangerous, T cells are normally held in check by inhibitory signals,” said Professor Goran K Hansson who led the study.
“The body’s own control works well as long as the LDL keeps to the blood, liver and lymph glands. But when it accumulates in the artery wall, this inhibition is no longer enough, the T cells are activated and an inflammation arises,” Hansson added.

According to the World Congress of Cardiology, it is estimated that by 2020 heart diseases will be the cause of over 40% in India as compared to 24% in 1990.


The Times of India