COVID-19: from treatment to prevention

by Apurva Govande figures by Tal Scully COVID-19, the disease caused by the newly discovered virus SARS-CoV-2, is a national emergency. We need a vaccine to prevent severe outcomes of disease, to successfully combat future outbreaks of this virus, and to ensure that businesses and schools can safely reopen. Until one is available, healthcare professionals can mitigate symptoms while deploying existing drugs that may show … Continue reading COVID-19: from treatment to prevention

A Sweet Solution for Preserving Vaccines

Researchers at McMaster University have developed a novel method for stabilizing vaccines, removing the strict requirement that the components be maintained within a specific low temperature range from development through delivery. The technique is based on drying the vaccines using two FDA-approved sugars and was shown to be successful in preserving vaccine effectiveness at elevated temperatures for twelve weeks. While it must still be validated on other vaccines, this method could be a major step toward cheap, accessible immunization in developing areas. Continue reading A Sweet Solution for Preserving Vaccines

The Actual Master of Disguise: The Flu

Influenza A is the virus responsible for the Spanish Flu pandemic, which wiped out 3-5% of the human population in the early 20th century. The annual influenza outbreak occurs in the autumn and winter, although it is not normally deadly for healthy adults. There is currently no vaccine providing permanent protection against influenza A because the virus mutates and changes so often, requiring a yearly … Continue reading The Actual Master of Disguise: The Flu

Vaccines for World’s Most Deadly Infectious Diseases Unlikely

Infectious diseases — including HIV, tuberculosis, and malaria — are a leading cause of death worldwide, particularly in low income countries and among young children. A new study found that the vaccines aimed to prevent many of the world’s most deadly diseases may not be developed any time soon. The study, funded by the Gates Foundation and the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation, focused on 538 … Continue reading Vaccines for World’s Most Deadly Infectious Diseases Unlikely

Disease Never Sleeps: Yellow fever and the importance of vaccine stockpiles in emergency epidemic prevention

by Fernanda Ferreira figures by Daniel Utter There are tens of thousands of buildings in São Paulo, the largest city in the Western hemisphere and Brazil’s financial center. From the sky, São Paulo looks like a fossilized forest of concrete trees. From the ground, it’s a pulsing behemoth, every avenue crammed with cars and people. The urban sprawl of Metropolitan São Paulo engulfs 39 municipalities … Continue reading Disease Never Sleeps: Yellow fever and the importance of vaccine stockpiles in emergency epidemic prevention

Vaccination: More than just your health

by Madeleine Jennewein figures by Rebecca Clements Vaccines have dramatically increased life expectancy over the last 100 years, radically reshaping our communities, our economy, and the way we live our lives. As vaccination has become more widespread, the memory of the devastating impacts of infectious disease has faded, and the diseases that vaccines guard against seem less threatening. Misinformation and a lack of understanding about … Continue reading Vaccination: More than just your health

Cancer Vaccines: How scientists are turning cancer against itself

by Cathy Gutierrez figures by Lillian Horin “The history of cancer vaccines is a history of failure.” This is the leading sentence of a 2005 article that summarized the history of cancer vaccines. Cancer vaccines have long been the Holy Grail of cancer research. For centuries, scientists have been devising ways to train the body to destroy tumors. Despite the success of early preventive cancer … Continue reading Cancer Vaccines: How scientists are turning cancer against itself

A Tale of Two Vaccines: Zika Vaccines Show Promise in Mice

In a little over a year since it was first reported in Brazil, Zika virus has gone from a little-known member of the flavivirus genus to one of the most reported on viruses in the world. Open any newspaper and you’ll find an update on the ongoing epidemic. For the most part the news is dire – counties reporting their first Zika cases or the … Continue reading A Tale of Two Vaccines: Zika Vaccines Show Promise in Mice

Visualizing the generation of antibodies

Antibodies are Y-shaped proteins that are made by the immune system to identify and neutralize pathogens. The generation of good antibodies during an immune response is essential for the body to protect itself against pathogens. Moreover, the vast majority of all vaccines are based on the formation of antibodies. During an immune response the cells that produce antibodies (B cells) undergo selection, during which the … Continue reading Visualizing the generation of antibodies