Vaccine News Roundup - November 17, 2018

November 17, 2018 Rene F. Najera

In the United States, the hunt continues for a vaccine against Malaria. Malaria is a parasitic infection caused by the Trypanosoma sp. of blood parasites. At the Lovell Lab at the University of Buffalo, scientists are researching a Maria vaccine that, so far, has given promising results in mice:

"We believe that a new type of vaccine that incorporates liposomes may be a promising candidate for a transmission-blocking vaccine adjuvant. An adjuvant is another vaccine component that potentiates the immune response. Liposomes are hollow spheres made from fat molecules.

The advantage of the liposomes, compared to just the Pfs25 protein alone is that they can help deliver more parasite protein to immune cells. These cells uptake the liposomal vaccines and trigger the production of more antibodies which then target the parasite for destruction and block the disease.

Jonathan Lovell’s team has developed a liposome as a vaccine to fight against malaria. In 2015, Dr. Lovell’s team figured out how to anchor proteins to the liposome by attaching them to a string of amino acids called a histidine tag. The tag works like an anchor which attaches the protein to the liposome.

Adding a cobalt-containing molecule, with a structure similar to vitamin B12, made the liposome-protein structure stable."

In the United States (with some previous research from Canada), scientists are trying to understand the role that the BCG vaccine may play in delaying or preventing the onset of Type I diabetes:

"Earlier this year, some of that same team from 2012 brought that mechanism to light. They published a study explaining how BCG affects us at the cellular level. The results help to explain both the reason for the delayed onset of diabetes as well as the why it may have value as a treatment.

The team recruited 282 people, of which 211 had diabetes and 71 didn't, acting as controls. These individuals had participated in an earlier BCG trial in which some had been vaccinated with BCG while others had been given a placebo. This provided the team with enough to be able to develop consistent results.

While the molecular mechanism was the goal, the trial itself focused on identifying whether or not BCG could help to reduce blood sugar levels, a key problem for those with diabetes. The participants were tested over the course of eight years to determine whether there were any changes in the concentration of blood glucose over that time.

When the results came back, the team was surprised to see that vaccination led to a reduction in blood sugar almost immediately. The levels in the first two years appeared to be about five per cent lower on average. But from the third year on, that drop was dramatic compared to the controls. While those who did not receive BCG saw slight increases in their blood sugar, those who got the vaccine saw their levels drop up to 18 per cent in the third year.

While this result was promising, it didn't provide an answer as to why this was happening. For that, the team had to look even deeper to determine what was happening. Eventually, an answer was found although it seemed to be too good to be true."

In the United States, with the flu season well underway, more and more evidence is being reported that cell-based influenza vaccines may be better than the traditional, egg-based influenza vaccines:

"Crafting better flu shots comes down to dispensing with 1940s technology, according to CSL Ltd., which says its new method of vaccine production may offer better protection against the virus that killed almost 200 American children last season.

Flucelvax, an immunization produced by CSL’s Seqirus unit with cell-based technology, was 36.2 percent more effective in preventing flu-like illness last winter than conventional shots made using chicken eggs, the Melbourne-based company said in a study released Friday.

Vaccination is recognized as the best way to protect against the respiratory disease, which kills as many as 650,000 people annually. Still, the shot’s effectiveness varies from year to year, depending on the closeness of the match between that season’s circulating viruses and the vaccine, which is usually reformulated annually. While eggs have been used to grow flu viruses to make vaccines for decades, scientists have found that once inside the egg, flu tends to undergo adaptive changes that makes it better suited to chickens, not people. Amplifying vaccine viruses in mammalian cell culture aims to avoid that problem."

And now, some quick links:

"Officials: 72 Confirmed Cases Of The Measles In Rockland" - CBS News

"The War to End All Measles" - The New York Times (Opinion)

"Italy's populist coalition renounces anti-vaccination stance amid measles 'emergency'" - The Telegraph

"Venezuela's Crisis Has Become Our Own"  - The Washington Post

That's it. If you hear of any news we should know about, let us know in the comments. Have a great weekend!

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