Posts about vaccine

Massive Blast of Measles Vaccine Wiped Out Cancer In Study

Unfortunately these stories are not uncommon but the hoped for follow through of practical solutions that work at all are rare. But we keep learning and while the breakthroughs based on these news stories is rare we do keep finding new and better methods to cope with health issues.

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

Stacy Erholtz was out of conventional treatment options for blood cancer last June when she underwent an experimental trial at the Mayo Clinic that injected her with enough measles vaccine to inoculate 10 million people.

The 50-year-old Pequot Lakes mother is now part of medical history.

The cancer, which had spread widely through her body, went into complete remission and was undetectable in Erholtz’s body after just one dose of the measles vaccine, which has an uncanny affinity for certain kinds of tumors.

Erholtz was one of just two subjects in the experiment and the only one to achieve complete remission. But the experiment provides the “proof of concept” that a single, massive dose of intravenous viral therapy can kill cancer by overwhelming its natural defenses, according to Dr. Stephen Russell, a professor of molecular medicine who spearheaded the research at Mayo.

Researchers have known for decades that viruses can be used to destroy cancer. They bind to tumors and use them as hosts to replicate their own genetic material; the cancer cells eventually explode and release the virus. Antiviral vaccines that have been rendered safe can produce the same effects and can also be modified to carry radioactive molecules to help destroy cancer cells without causing widespread damage to healthy cells around the tumors. The body’s immune system then attacks any remaining cancer that carries remnants of the vaccine’s genetic imprint.

Mayo started out giving patients 1 million infectious units and gradually cranked up the dosage — but it didn’t work until Erholtz and another patient were injected with 100 billion infectious units, he said.

While the treatment worked in Erholtz, whose tumors were primarily in her bone marrow, the results weren’t sustained in the second patient, whose tumors were largely confined to her leg muscles. Russell said researchers need to study how the nature of the tumor affects the lethality of the virus.

One challenge of health research on fatal health conditions is that the experimentation with people is usually limited to people that have no available options left from the approved treatments. So, in general they are very sick. And the great complexity of dealing with human immune systems, the variation in the disease and in people create a very difficult research environment. Thankfully we have many great scientists dedicated to finding new treatments.

Related: Virus Kills Breast Cancer Cells in LaboratoryVirus Engineered To Kill Deadly Brain TumorsUsing Bacteria to Carry Nanoparticles Into CellsWebcast of a T-cell Killing a Cancerous Cell

Scientific Illiteracy Leads to Failure to Vaccinate Which Leads to Death

Anti-vaccination propagandists help create the worst whooping cough epidemic in 70 years by Steven Salzberg is a professor at Johns Hopkins School of Medicine:

When the vaccination rates drop, everyone becomes more vulnerable to infectious diseases. When more than 90% of the population is vaccinated, we have “herd immunity” – this means the disease can’t spread because there aren’t enough susceptible people in the community. So the high rate of vaccine refusal in Washington makes it easier for whooping cough (and other diseases) to spread.

And now we learn that the U.S. is in the midst of the worst whooping cough epidemic in 70 years. One of the most hard-hit states is Washington, which the CDC just announced (on 20 July) has suffered 2,520 cases so far this year, a 1300% increase over last year. This is the highest number of cases reported in Washington since 1942.

The U.S. has had over 17,000 cases this year, putting it on track for the worst year since 1959. The highest rate of infection in the nation is in Wisconsin (which has also been hit hard by anti-vaccine effects), followed by Washington and Montana. 10 deaths have been reported, mostly in infants who were too young to be vaccinated. For all this, we can thank the anti-vaccination movement.

The failure of our society to appreciate the value of science has dire consequences. We are lucky to benefit from the results of scientific advances around us everyday. Some people, instead of appreciating the value of science waste these great gifts we have been given.

What people want to believe is up to them. When people’s actions risk others lives that is not ok. Drunk drivers risk others lives; therefore we don’t allow drunk driving. Society requires that people respect others right to live. It is sensible to require people to cooperate to limit damaging behavior: such as drunk driving or not being properly vaccinated.

Pertussis (whooping cough) is a highly contagious bacterial disease that causes uncontrollable, violent coughing. The coughing can make it hard to breathe. Pertussis, or whooping cough, is an upper respiratory infection caused by the Bordetella pertussis or Bordetella parapertussis bacteria. It is a serious disease that can cause permanent disability in infants, and even death.

Related: Vaccines Can’t Provide Miraculous Results if We Don’t Take ThemDeadly Choices: How the Anti-Vaccine Movement Threatens Us All (book)CDC Report on Failures to VaccinateOur Dangerous Antibiotic Practices Carry Great Risks

CDC Report on Failures to Vaccinate

Science brought us the miracle of vaccines and the near elimination of many diseases. Unfortunately people are choosing to bring those diseases to many more people because they failed to get vaccinated or failed to vaccinate their children. The needless pain and suffering caused by these poor decisions are a sad testament to scientific illiteracy.

The financial implications of the US measles outbreaks

One reason measles outbreaks are so scary (and so difficult to contain) is that measles is the most infectious microbe known to man–it’s transmission rate is around 90 percent. It has also killed more children than any other disease in history.

The most significant factor in the spread of measles in the United States is declining vaccination rates — and, similar to what occurred in the UK in the early part of the last decade, that decline can be traced back to the press-fueled panic…

CDC report on Measles

Children and adults who remain unvaccinated and develop measles also put others in their community at risk…

In Europe in recent years, measles has been fatal for several children and adolescents, including some who could not be vaccinated because they were immune compromised.

Rapid control efforts by state and local public health agencies, which are both time intensive and costly, have been a key factor in limiting the size of outbreaks and preventing the spread of measles into communities with increased numbers of unvaccinated persons. Nonetheless, maintenance of high 2-dose MMR vaccination coverage is the most critical factor for sustaining elimination. For measles, even a small decrease in coverage can increase the risk for large outbreaks and endemic transmission, as occurred in the United Kingdom in the past decade…

Related: Vaccines Don’t Provide Miraculous Results if We Don’t Take ThemThe Illusion of Understanding500 Year Floods

Cancer Vaccines

A reader commented on a previous post (MIT Engineers Design New Type of Nanoparticle for Vacines) asking about how vaccines can fight cancer. Preventative vaccines can build up immune response to viruses which cause cancer. So the vaccine actually works against the virus which prevents the virus from causing cancer.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved two vaccines, Gardasil® and Cervarix®, that protect against infection by the two types of human papillomavirus (HPV) – types 16 and 18 – that cause approximately 70% of all cases of cervical cancer worldwide. At least 17 other types of HPV are responsible for the remaining 30% of cervical cancer cases. HPV types 16 and/or 18 also cause some vaginal, vulvar, anal, penile, and oropharyngeal cancers.

Many scientists believe that microbes cause or contribute to between 15% and 25% of all cancers diagnosed worldwide each year, with the percentages being lower in developed than developing countries.

Vaccines can also help stimulate the immune system to fight cancers.

B cells make antibodies, which are large secreted proteins that bind to, inactivate, and help destroy foreign invaders or abnormal cells. Most preventive vaccines, including those aimed at hepatitis B virus (HBV) and human papillomavirus (HPV), stimulate the production of antibodies that bind to specific, targeted microbes and block their ability to cause infection. Cytotoxic T cells, which are also known as killer T cells, kill infected or abnormal cells by releasing toxic chemicals or by prompting the cells to self-destruct (a process known as apoptosis).

Other types of lymphocytes and leukocytes play supporting roles to ensure that B cells and killer T cells do their jobs effectively. These supporting cells include helper T cells and dendritic cells, which help activate killer T cells and enable them to recognize specific threats.

Cancer treatment vaccines are designed to work by activating B cells and killer T cells and directing them to recognize and act against specific types of cancer. They do this by introducing one or more molecules known as antigens into the body, usually by injection. An antigen is a substance that stimulates a specific immune response. An antigen can be a protein or another type of molecule found on the surface of or inside a cell.

Related: National Cancer Institute (USA)Nanoparticles With Scorpion Venom Slow Cancer SpreadUsing Bacteria to Carry Nanoparticles Into CellsGlobal Cancer Deaths to Double by 2030
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Cat Allergy Vaccine Created

McMaster University researchers have developed a vaccine which successfully treats people with an allergy to cats. Traditionally, frequent allergy shots have been considered the most effective way to bring relief — other than getting rid of the family pet — for the 8 to 10% of the population allergic to cats.

Both options, may now be avoided thanks to the work of immunologist Mark Larché, professor at the Michael G. DeGroote School of Medicine and Canada Research Chair in Allergy & Immune Tolerance.

Building on research he’s conducted for the past 10 years in Canada and Britain, Larché and his research team have developed a vaccine which is effective and safe with almost no side effects. The research is published in a the January 2011 issue of the Journal of Allergy & Clinical Immunology, a leading journal in the allergy field.

The researchers took one protein (molecule) that cats secrete on their fur which causes the majority of allergic problems. Using blood samples from 100 patient volunteers allergic to cats, they deconstructed the molecule and identified short regions within the protein which activate T-cells (helper cells that fight infection) in the immune system.

Using the amino acid code for the whole protein, researchers made synthetic versions of these regions. For the cat allergy vaccine, they found seven peptides (strings of amino acids). “And those synthetic peptides are what we mix together to make the vaccine,” said Larché. “We picked the peptides that would work in as much of the population as possible.”

Known as “peptide immunotherapy,” a low dose of the vaccine is given into the skin. Initially, four to eight doses a year may be required, but the side effects of the traditional allergy shots do not arise, Larché said. The optimal dose will be determined in phase three clinical trials which are getting underway with a much larger group of cat allergy sufferers.

The development of a vaccine to treat people allergic to cats is the first in a line of vaccines developed with Adiga Life Sciences, a company established at McMaster in 2008. It is a joint venture between McMaster University Circassia Ltd., a UK-based biotech company.

Adiga and McMaster are now collaborating on research into the use of peptide immunotherapy for house dust mite, ragweed, grass, birch tree and moulds

Related: MIT Engineers Design New Type of Nanoparticle for Vacines10 Questions to Ask Your Vet About Cat MedicationsVaccine For Strep Infections

MIT Engineers Design New Type of Nanoparticle for Vacines

MIT engineers have designed a new type of nanoparticle that could safely and effectively deliver vaccines for diseases such as HIV and malaria. The new particles, described in the Feb. 20 issue of Nature Materials, consist of concentric fatty spheres that can carry synthetic versions of proteins normally produced by viruses. These synthetic particles elicit a strong immune response – comparable to that produced by live virus vaccines – but should be much safer, says Darrell Irvine, author of the paper and an associate professor of materials science and engineering and biological engineering.

Such particles could help scientists develop vaccines against cancer as well as infectious diseases. In collaboration with scientists at the Walter Reed Army Institute of Research, Irvine and his students are now testing the nanoparticles’ ability to deliver an experimental malaria vaccine in mice.

Vaccines protect the body by exposing it to an infectious agent that primes the immune system to respond quickly when it encounters the pathogen again. In many cases, such as with the polio and smallpox vaccines, a dead or disabled form of the virus is used. Other vaccines, such as the diphtheria vaccine, consist of a synthetic version of a protein or other molecule normally made by the pathogen.

When designing a vaccine, scientists try to provoke at least one of the human body’s two major players in the immune response: T cells, which attack body cells that have been infected with a pathogen; or B cells, which secrete antibodies that target viruses or bacteria present in the blood and other body fluids.

For diseases in which the pathogen tends to stay inside cells, such as HIV, a strong response from a type of T cell known as “killer” T cell is required. The best way to provoke these cells into action is to use a killed or disabled virus, but that cannot be done with HIV because it’s difficult to render the virus harmless.

To get around the danger of using live viruses, scientists are working on synthetic vaccines for HIV and other viral infections such as hepatitis B. However, these vaccines, while safer, do not elicit a very strong T cell response. Recently, scientists have tried encasing the vaccines in fatty droplets called liposomes, which could help promote T cell responses by packaging the protein in a virus-like particle. However, these liposomes have poor stability in blood and body fluids.

Irvine, who is a member of MIT’s David H. Koch Institute for Integrative Cancer Research, decided to build on the liposome approach by packaging many of the droplets together in concentric spheres. Once the liposomes are fused together, adjacent liposome walls are chemically “stapled” to each other, making the structure more stable and less likely to break down too quickly following injection. However, once the nanoparticles are absorbed by a cell, they degrade quickly, releasing the vaccine and provoking a T cell response.

read the full press release

Related: New and Old Ways to Make Flu VaccinesEngineering Mosquitoes to be Flying VaccinatorsNew nanoparticles could improve cancer treatmentVaccines Can’t Provide Miraculous Results if We Don’t Take Them

Vaccines Can’t Provide Miraculous Results if We Don’t Take Them

Vaccine preventable diseases used to ravage our health. In the USA, we are lucky to live in a society where those before us have taken vaccines and reduced to very low levels the attack vectors for these diseases. If nearly everyone is vaccinated for polio, even if it crops up with one person, most likely it won’t spread. As more people chose to risk the health of others in the society by failing to vaccinate, an infection can spread rapidly. There are some people who can’t be vaccinated for one reason or another (normally dangerous allergies) and vaccines, while very effective are not 100% effective. So any person that fails to vaccinate their kids endangers society and those who cannot be vaccinated.

Six Top Vaccine Myths

Myth 1: It’s not necessary to vaccinate kids against diseases that have been largely eradicated in the United States.
Reality: Although some diseases like polio and diphtheria aren’t often seen in America (in large part because of the success of the vaccination efforts), they can be quite common in other parts of the world. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention warns that travelers can unknowingly bring these diseases into the United States, and if we were not protected by vaccinations, these diseases could quickly spread throughout the population. At the same time, the relatively few cases currently in the U.S. could very quickly become tens or hundreds of thousands of cases without the protection we get from vaccines. Brown warns that these diseases haven’t disappeared, “they are merely smoldering under the surface.”

Most parents do follow government recommendations: U.S. national immunization rates are high, ranging from 85 percent to 93 percent, depending on the vaccine, according to the CDC.

See the 2010 Child & Adolescent Immunization Schedules from the CDC and protect your children and society. The suffering caused by preventable diseases like polio and small pox was huge. We should not delude ourselves into thinking that those diseases are not dangerous. They are. We have been protected by all those taking vaccines. If people in the society don’t take vaccines that increases the health risks to the society at large.

Routine smallpox vaccination among the American public stopped in 1972 after the disease was eradicated in the United States. The United States government has enough vaccine to vaccinate every person in the United States in the event of a smallpox emergency (mainly due to concerns about bio-terrorism).

U.S. Adults Dying of Preventable Diseases

Diseases easily preventable by adult vaccines kill more Americans each year than car wrecks, breast cancer, or AIDS.

“We have a chronic disease epidemic in the U.S. It is taxing our families and taxing our economy,” the CDC’s Anne Schuchat, MD, said at the news conference. “We have a need for culture change in America. We worry about things when they are really bad rather than focusing on prevention, which can keep us out of the hospital and keep our families thriving.”

In other parts of the world the danger is not from those who chose not to vaccinate their children but those who are not provided the opportunity to.

Bill Gates’ war on disease, poverty is an uphill battle
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Engineering Mosquitoes to be Flying Vaccinators

Mosquitoes Engineered Into Flying Vaccinators by Emily Singer

Researchers in Japan have transformed mosquitoes into vaccine-carrying syringes by genetically engineering the insects to express the vaccine for leishmaniasis–a parasitic disease transmitted by the sandfly–in their saliva. According to a study in Insect Molecular Biology, mice bitten by these mosquitoes produced antibodies against the parasite. It’s not yet clear whether the immune response was strong enough to protect against infection.

“Following bites, protective immune responses are induced, just like a conventional vaccination but with no pain and no cost,” said lead researcher Shigeto Yoshida, from the Jichi Medical University in JapanYoshida, in a press release from the journal. “What’s more continuous exposure to bites will maintain high levels of protective immunity, through natural boosting, for a life time. So the insect shifts from being a pest to being beneficial.”

Researchers consider the project more of a proof of principle experiment than a viable public health option, at least for now.

Very cool.

Related: New and Old Ways to Make Flu VaccinesTreated Mosquito Nets Prevent Malariare-engineering mosquito so they cannot carry disease

Influenza Pandemic Alert Raised to Level 5 (of 6)

WHO Director-General, Dr Margaret Chan, announced today that she has “decided to raise the current level of influenza pandemic alert from phase 4 to phase 5.” And she further comments:

Let me remind you. New diseases are, by definition, poorly understood. Influenza viruses are notorious for their rapid mutation and unpredictable behaviour. WHO and health authorities in affected countries will not have all the answers immediately, but we will get them.

WHO will be tracking the pandemic at the epidemiological, clinical, and virological levels. All countries should immediately activate their pandemic preparedness plans. Countries should remain on high alert for unusual outbreaks of influenza-like illness and severe pneumonia.

At this stage, effective and essential measures include heightened surveillance, early detection and treatment of cases, and infection control in all health facilities.

I have reached out to companies manufacturing antiviral drugs to assess capacity and all options for ramping up production. I have also reached out to influenza vaccine manufacturers that can contribute to the production of a pandemic vaccine.

The biggest question, right now, is this: how severe will the pandemic be, especially now at the start?

It is possible that the full clinical spectrum of this disease goes from mild illness to severe disease. We need to continue to monitor the evolution of the situation to get the specific information and data we need to answer this question.

From past experience, we also know that influenza may cause mild disease in affluent countries, but more severe disease, with higher mortality, in developing countries.

No matter what the situation is, the international community should treat this as a window of opportunity to ramp up preparedness and response.

Above all, this is an opportunity for global solidarity as we look for responses and solutions that benefit all countries, all of humanity. After all, it really is all of humanity that is under threat during a pandemic.

As I have said, we do not have all the answers right now, but we will get them.
—- end of her remarks —-
The latest WHO Epidemic and Pandemic Alert and Response release puts the total number of confirmed cases at 148, in 9 countries, with 8 deaths. Mexico has many more suspected cases but just 26 confirmed cases. The CDC Swine Influenza site, puts the total number of confirmed cases in the USA at 91, in 10 states, with 1 death.

Related: Swine Flu: a Quick OverviewSwine Flu One Step Closer to Pandemicposts on influenzaWhy the Flu Likes WinterReducing the Impact of a Flu Pandemic

Poor Reporting and Unfounded Implications

Correlation is not causation. And reporting of the form, “1 time this happened” and so I report it as though it is some relevant fact, is sad. Take any incident that happened and then state random traits you want to imply there is some relevant link to (blue eyes, red hair, people that watch IT Crowd, people that bought a banana yesterday, tall, overweight, did poorly in math…) and most people will know you are ignorant.

Looking at random data people will find patterns. Sound scientific experimentation is how we learn, not trying to find anything that support our opinions. Statistics don’t lie but ignorant people draw faulty conclusions from data (when they are innumerate – illiteracy with mathematical concepts).

It’s not what the papers say, it’s what they don’t by Ben Goldacre

On Tuesday the Telegraph, the Independent, the Mirror, the Express, the Mail, and the Metro all reported that a coroner was hearing the case of a toddler who died after receiving the MMR vaccine, which the parents blamed for their loss. Toddler ‘died after MMR jab’ (Metro), ‘Healthy’ baby died after MMR jab (Independent), you know the headlines by now.

On Thursday the coroner announced his verdict: the vaccine played no part in this child’s death. So far, of the papers above, only the Telegraph has had the decency to cover the outcome.

Measles cases are rising. Middle class parents are not to blame, even if they do lack rhetorical panache when you try to have a discussion with them about it.

They have been systematically and vigorously misled by the media, the people with access to all the information, who still choose, collectively, between themselves, so robustly that it might almost be a conspiracy, to give you only half the facts.

Science education is important. Even if people do not become scientists, ignorance of scientific thinking is dangerous. The lack of scientific literacy allows scientifically illiterate leaders to make claims that are lacking scientific merit. And results in people making poor choices themselves, due to their ignorance.

Related: Bad Science blog by Ben GoldacreIllusion of Explanatory DepthIllusions – Optical and Otherposts on vaccinesposts on scientific literacy

Genes Counter a Bacterial Attack

Gene against bacterial attack unravelled

Humans have an innate defence system against deadly bacteria. However, how the step from gene to anti-bacterial effect occurs in the body is not yet known. To date, B. Pseudomallei, a bacterium suitable for bioweapons, had managed to elude medics. It can remain hidden in the human body for many years without being detected by the immune system. The bacteria can suddenly become activated and spread throughout the body, resulting in the patient dying from blood poisoning. AMC physician Joost Wiersinga and the Laboratory for Experimental Internal Medicine discovered which gene-protein combination renders the lethal bacteria B. pseudomallei harmless.

Wiersinga focussed on the so-called Toll-like receptors. These are the proteins that initiate the fight against pathogens. There are currently ten known Toll-like receptors which are located on the outside of immune cells, our body’s defence system. The toll-like receptors jointly function as a 10-figure alarm code. Upon coming into contact with the immune cell each bacterium enters its own Toll code. For known pathogens this sets off an alarm in the immune system and the defence mechanism is activated. Yet B. pseudomallei fools the system by entering the code of a harmless bacterium. As a result the body’s defence system remains on standby.

Yet some people are resistant: they become infected but not ill. Wiersinga found a genetic cause for this resistance. He discovered which toll receptor can fend off B. pseudomallei. He did this by rearing mice DNA in which the gene for Toll2 production was switched on and off. ‘The group where the gene for Toll2 was switched off, survived the bacterial infection’, says Wiersinga. ‘The other receptor that we investigated, Toll4, had no effect – even though for the past ten years medics had regarded this as the most important receptor.’ The ultimate aim of this study is to develop a vaccine.

PLoS paper: MyD88 Dependent Signaling Contributes to Protective Host Defense against Burkholderia pseudomallei

Related: Bacteria Can Transfer Genes to Other BacteriaDisrupting the Replication of BacteriaAmazing Designs of Lifeposts on medical research

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