Mar 7, 2009

Vaccination method provides instant immunity: study

The new approach has the potential to give humans spontaneous protection against diseases caused by viruses, bacteria, toxins and even cancerous cells, they said. At present vaccines can take days or weeks to take effect.
But in methods developed by the California-based Scripps Research Institute, a two-stage process targets specific cells and creates a ‘universal’ immune reaction.
Mice were injected with one type of chemical antibodies to trigger a programmable reaction, and another type of chemical described as ‘adapter’ molecules recognize the right cells to target. The two work in sync to self-assemble inside the body to create an instant result.
‘The antibodies in our vaccine are designed to circulate inertly until they receive instructions from tailor-made small molecules to become active against a specific target,’ said team leader Carlos Barbas.
‘The advantage of this method is that it opens up the possibility of having antibodies primed and ready to go in the time it takes to receive an injection or swallow a pill.’
‘This would apply whether the target is a cancer cell, flu virus, or a toxin like anthrax that soldiers or even civilian populations might have to face during a bioterrorism attack,’ he said.
‘Our approach differs from the traditional vaccine approach in the sense that when we design an antibody-adapter compound we know exactly what that compound will react with,’ Barbas said.
He said ‘the importance of this is best exemplified with HIV. In current vaccines, many antibodies are generated against HIV, but most are not able to target the active part of the virus.’
The work by one of the world’s largest private biomedical organization has so far only been tested on mice affected by melanoma or colon cancer. Three clinical trials are being conducted by the US medical giant Pfizer to test the new approach against types of cancer and diabetes. (AFP)
Flu strain proves resistant to medication: report A virulent strain of influenza sowing misery across the United States is proving resistant to what had been until recently the most effective anti-viral drugs, according to a study released Monday.
A report in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) found that the H1N1 subtype of influenza A viruses commonly proved resistant to the popular drug oseltamivir, sold commercially in the United States as the drug Tamiflu.
Preliminary data during the current 2008-2009 influenza season shows that the virus’s resistance to the Tamiflu continues to be high and that the drug-resistant strain of the flu continues to have a high incidence.
Equally worrying is the virulence of this particular strain of flu. Data last year for 99 individuals infected with oseltamivir-resistant influenza found that five of the patients had to be hospitalized, four of whom died.The authors wrote that the worrisome development ‘has highlighted the need for the development of new antiviral drugs and rapid diagnostic tests that determine viral subtype or resistance.’ (AFP)

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