Archive for September, 2014

Donor behind largest gift in Harvard’s history explains inspiration

Tuesday, September 30th, 2014 (last updated)

The family foundation’s donation was partly inspired by a mother’s volunteer work in vaccinations

Chinese businessman Gerald Chan explained the story behind his family foundation’s $350 million gift to Harvard’s School of Public Health on Monday.

The donation by his family’s Morningside Foundation is the largest Harvard has ever received and one of the largest ever given to an institute of higher education.

Chan said the donation was inspired by his mother’s volunteer work, vaccinating children in China in the 1950s. Chan’s mother, a nurse, administered vaccines to neighborhood children in the family kitchen, using the same needle repeatedly and disinfecting it in boiling water.

“As you can imagine, the needle was blunted by repeated use, so the injections got extraordinarily painful,” said the Hong Kong property developer. “It was no wonder that many children screamed and wailed in our kitchen.”

Chan said he was also inspired by his father’s decision to support the education of friends’ children overseas.

“In keeping with my mother’s work in improving people’s health and my father’s commitment to education, my brothers and I thought it most fitting to celebrate their legacy with a gift to Harvard School of Public Health,” he said.

Gerald Chan

Time Magazine

Why HPV vaccination is unique?

Monday, September 29th, 2014 (last updated)

Several factors contribute to the uniqueness of the anti-cancer vaccine HPV. Why was its unveiling met with some controversy?

Harvard Public Health

Over 754,000 children received polio vaccine in Peshawar

Sunday, September 28th, 2014 (last updated)

polio vaccine

A one-day polio vaccination campaign was launched in Peshawar last Sunday amid tight security.

Local health officials said that some 754,383 children will be vaccinated in 96 union councils in several districts of the city. Some 235 health teams accompanied by over 8,470 people will participate, and in-charges are also appointed for each polio team.

In light of the on-going polio campaign in the capital city, the K-P government has imposed a ban on pillion riding under Section 144.

KP has been facing polio outbreak because of ban imposed on vaccination by Taliban. The campaign has been adversely affected due to terrorist threats to the teams of health workers tasked with administering polio drops to the children. The government is facing mounting pressure from international health agencies as it fails to curb the crippling virus that has seen the highest reported cases in Pakistan this year.

Several polio teams have come under attack by militants in the past.

In response, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government has planned aggressive polio campaigns following approval of funds by the federal government for immunisation activities.

With focus on the high-risk districts, the provincial health department had decided to conduct 15 campaigns from Oct 2014 to June 2015. The federal government had also approved Rs33 billion emergency plan for polio eradication in the country.

Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, which had recorded 25 of total 147 countrywide cases in 2014 so far, desperately needed funds to vaccinate children ahead of low transmission season starting from October and scale up children’s immunity against polio virus besides continuing its routine immunisation activities.

Previously in August, a three-day polio vaccination campaign began in three tehsils of Khyber Agency during which 127,000 children were vaccinated.

Blog New York Times

Just the flu facts with James Van Der Beek

Saturday, September 27th, 2014 (last updated)

AstraZeneca announced today that it has collaborated with actor and father James Van Der Beek on a campaign to dispel common myths about the flu and underscore the importance of annual influenza vaccination for eligible individuals and families. As part of the campaign, Van Der Beek stars in an informative and comedic video, called “Just the Flu Facts,” in which he uses his signature sense of humor to debunk common misconceptions about seasonal influenza that are often barriers to vaccination.

MultiVu Video

Vaxxas launches research project to evaluate Nanopatch for polio vaccine delivery

Friday, September 26th, 2014 (last updated)

Vaxxas launches research project to evaluate Nanopatch for polio vaccine delivery

Biotechnology company Vaxxas announced on Tuesday that it began a research project to evaluate its Nanopatch platform for the delivery of polio vaccine.

The World Health Organization will provide funding to Vaxxas to support the project, specifically for pre-clinical studies and good manufacturing practices. Following the research, Nanopatches will enter the necessary clinical development and seek the regulatory approvals needed for distribution.

“The Nanopatch doesn’t need to be kept refrigerated to maintain its efficacy – a tremendously important factor for the transportation and application of polio vaccine in the remote regions of the world where eradication efforts are most challenging,” David Hoey, the CEO of Vaxxas, said. “The research we are undertaking with WHO’s support aims to provide better vaccine solutions to reach all children anywhere with this life-saving health intervention.”

Vaxxas is currently pursuing strategic plans to both license its technology to global pharmaceutical companies and advance vaccine candidates of its own. The company is collaborating with Merck & Co., Inc., to commercialize the Nanopatch for undisclosed vaccine candidates.

Vaxxas was founded in 2011 with $15 million of equity financing. The company expanded in 2012 by opening an office in Cambridge, Mass., to bring it closer to its global pharmaceutical partners and complement its research and development operations in Queensland, Australia.

nanopatch polio vaccine

Vaccine News Daily

CDC: 90% of kids who died last flu season didn’t get the vaccine

Thursday, September 25th, 2014 (last updated)

The flu took the lives of more than 100 children in the U.S. last flu season, and most of those kids didn’t get a flu shot.

That’s according to a new report by the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention, aimed to encourage Americans to get vaccinated now. The flu kills up to approximately 36,000 people each year, but less than half of the population gets an annual flu shot. That’s something the CDC wants to change.

“Flu hit young and middle-aged adults hard last year and just over 100 children died,” Dr. William Schaffner of Vanderbilt University told NBC News. “There is simply no reason to take the risk.”

Ninety percent of the children who died did not receive flu shot, according to the CDC’s Director Dr. Tom Frieden. He and other health officials gathered this week at a briefing sponsored by the National Foundation for Infectious Diseases to discuss plans for the 2014-15 flu season.

The CDC recommends everyone 6 months and older get the flu shot. So far this year, just a third of young and middle-aged adults have taken the plunge.

Whatever the reason — fear of needles, worry that the vaccine can actually give you the flu or indifference — far too many people are failing to get the flu shot, and that translates to an uncomfortably large group of children who are at risk to contract the virus.

This year, the CDC will have 150 million doses of the vaccine available to the public. New laws require that insurance cover 100 percent of the cost, negating the out-of-pocket expense. And those with needle phobia can instead opt for a nasal spray or a new “needle-free” method that uses a jet to force the vaccine through the skin.

“Influenza vaccines are safe, plentiful and we have more vaccine options than ever before — at least one is right for everyone,” Schaffner said at the briefing. “People should not wait to get vaccinated if their first choice is not available.”



Is natural immunity the best?

Wednesday, September 24th, 2014 (last updated)


Options and obstacles for designing a universal influenza vaccine

Tuesday, September 23rd, 2014 (last updated)

Since the discovery of antibodies specific to a highly conserved stalk region of the influenza virus hemagglutinin (HA), eliciting such antibodies has been considered the key to developing a universal influenza vaccine that confers broad-spectrum protection against various influenza subtypes. To achieve this goal, a prime/boost immunization strategy has been heralded to redirect host immune responses from the variable globular head domain to the conserved stalk domain of HA. While this approach has been successful in eliciting cross-reactive antibodies against the HA stalk domain, protective efficacy remains relatively poor due to the low immunogenicity of the domain, and the cross-reactivity was only within the same group, rather than among different groups. Additionally, concerns are raised on the possibility of vaccine-associated enhancement of viral infection and whether multiple boost immunization protocols would be considered practical from a clinical standpoint. Live attenuated vaccine hitherto remains unexplored, but is expected to serve as an alternative approach, considering its superior cross-reactivity. This review summarizes recent advancements in the HA stalk-based universal influenza vaccines, discusses the pros and cons of these approaches with respect to the potentially beneficial and harmful effects of neutralizing and non-neutralizing antibodies, and suggests future guidelines towards the design of a truly protective universal influenza vaccine.

Options and obstacles for designing a universal influenza vaccine Click here


It’s not just about you and your kids…

Monday, September 22nd, 2014 (last updated)

It’s not just about you and your kids…


61% fall in genital warts thanks to HPV vaccine

Sunday, September 21st, 2014 (last updated)

In 2007, Australia began providing the human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine free to girls 12 to 18 in a school-based program. Now researchers have calculated the effect on the incidence of genital warts in women 15 to 27.

The study, published in the September issue of PLOS One, found that the rate of genital warts in young Australian women decreased by 61 percent, while rates in age and sex groups not covered by the program were unchanged.

The program uses the quadrivalent HPV vaccine that protects against types 16 and 18, the major causes of cervical cancer, and against types 6 and 11, which cause genital warts.

Since 2007, more than 70 percent of Australian girls turning 15 have received all three doses of the vaccine, the authors write. In the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 38 percent of girls 13 to 17 have received all three doses.

“I’m talking as an outsider looking at the American system,” said the lead author, Christopher Harrison, a senior research analyst at the Family Medicine Research Center of the University of Sydney. “But for the vaccine to be effective and get herd immunity, it would be proper for the government to step in and provide the money for it.”

61% fall in genital warts thanks to HPV vaccine

Blog New York Times