Hep B Vaccination
- Maurice Hilleman watches as his granddaughter receives the recombinant hepatitis B vaccine in 1999.
Vaccine developer Maurice Hilleman, PhD, watches as his granddaughter receives the recombinant hepatitis B vaccine in 1999. This hepatitis B vaccine was the first human vaccine produced by recombinant DNA methods.
A challenge in creating the vaccine involved avoiding the use of human blood products, as did Hilleman’s first hepatitis B vaccine. Therefore, Merck used an enzyme to remove the virus’s surface protein (HBsAg, the Australia antigen). Researchers inserted the code for the antigen into yeast cells, which produced more of the surface protein. The yeast-derived surface protein produced immunity to the hepatitis B virus.
- Courtesy of Lorraine Hilleman
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