Author Interviews, Dengue, Duke, Vaccine Studies / 21.09.2019 Interview with: Dr Shee-Mei Lok, PhD Professor in the Emerging Infectious Disease program Duke-NUS, a school of National University of Singapore What is the background for this study? Response: Dengue virus consists of four different serotypes (DENV1-4) and within each serotypes, there are multiple strains. In terms of the viral particle shape, our previous research work using some laboratory adapted strains showed these DENV2 strains are very interesting in that it can change shape from the smooth spherical surface particles when grown at mosquito physiological temperature (29oC) and then becomes bumpy surfaced particles when incubated at human physiological temperature (37oC). This ability to transform into different virus surface structures helps the virus to escape from the immune system of the human host. Hence understanding the mechanism of how this occur is important for therapeutics and vaccine development. Here we also identified a laboratory adapted virus strain that do not showed this structural changes. We showed some differences in their amino acid sequences and We showed some differences in their amino acid sequences and mutating these residues coupled with observing their surface structures showed which residues are important for this temperature induced structural change. Results showed that subtle mutations at different places on the envelope protein can destabilize the virus allowing them to change in structure when temperature is elevated. Due to the poor selection pressure of the artificial laboratory tissue culture system, gradual mutations of the virus is accumulated causing the virus to have bumpy surface morphology. (more…)
Author Interviews, Melanoma, Vaccine Studies / 11.08.2019 Interview with: Prof. Ronit Satchi-Fainaro, PhD Head, Cancer Research and Nanomedicine Laboratory Department of Physiology and Pharmacology, Sackler Faculty of Medicine, Tel Aviv University, Tel-Aviv 69978, Israel Prof. Helena Florindo, PhD Head, BioNanoSciences – iMed.ULisboa Faculty of Pharmacy, University of Lisbon Lisbon, Portugal What are the main findings? Response: The war against cancer in general, and melanoma in particular, has advanced over the years through a variety of treatment modalities, such as surgery, chemotherapy, radiation therapy and immunotherapy. The immune checkpoint inhibitors brought a breakthrough solution for advanced melanoma patients, but only a low percentage of those respond to this therapy, developing resistance and being affected by severe side effects. Despite the success of several vaccines against viral diseases, this success has not been materialized yet against cancer. This study led by my lab at Tel Aviv University, and Helena Florindo’s lab at the University of Lisbon, describes the development of an effective nano-vaccine against melanoma, that also sensitizes the immune system to immunotherapies. This nano-vaccine prevented melanoma, and also led to remarkable tumor inhibition and prolonged survival in mice already affected by this disease.  (more…)
Author Interviews, CDC, Cognitive Issues, Infections, Vaccine Studies / 24.06.2019 Interview with: Arindam Nandi  PhD Center for Disease Dynamics, Economics & Policy What is the background for this study?   Response: The motivation for this study comes from a small but growing body of evidence on the potential long-term benefits of vaccines. The recent resurgence of measles outbreaks in several countries which had previously eliminated the virus makes our study additionally relevant. There have been over 1,000 measles cases reported across 28 states in the US so far in 2019, which is the largest number of cases the country has seen in almost 3 decades. Similarly high number of cases have been reported in several European countries in recent years. This study reiterates the importance of vaccination and proves the long-term benefits of the measles vaccine in low- and middle-income countries, which account for a large proportion of global measles cases. (more…)
Author Interviews, Global Health, Infections, Vaccine Studies / 24.06.2019 Interview with: Lisa Lindesmith, MS Research specialist Ralph S. Baric, PhD Professor, Departments of Epidemiology, Microbiology and Immunology Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center Gillings School of Global Public Health University of North Carolina What is the background for this study? Would you briefly explain the types of outbreaks caused by Norovirus infections? Response: Noroviruses cause about 20% of endemic and 50% of food-borne acute gastroenteritis, infecting all age groups, globally.  While may different strains of norovirus cause outbreaks primarily in community settings, since the mid-1990’s the GII.4 strains of norovirus have caused waves of pandemic disease every 2-7 years.  These pandemics are associated with emergence of a GII.4 strain that has changed key viral domains rendering the virus less susceptible to recognition by and protection from a person’s immune system.  For a vaccine to be efficacious against pandemic GII.4 strains, it must be able to train the immune system to focus on the part of the GII.4 virus that does not change over time. (more…)
Author Interviews, CDC, Flu - Influenza, Vaccine Studies / 29.05.2019 Interview with: Megan C. Lindley, MPH Deputy Associate Director for Science Immunization Services Division CDC What is the background for this study? Response: Despite longstanding recommendations from the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices, healthcare personnel influenza vaccination coverage remains below the Healthy People 2020 target of 90%. Healthcare employers use a variety of strategies to promote influenza vaccination among healthcare personnel, including facility-level mandates for vaccination. Several U.S. states have also enacted laws related to healthcare personnel influenza vaccination, but the effect of these laws on vaccination uptake is unclear. Our study used influenza vaccination coverage data reported by over 4,000 U.S. hospitals to examine three kinds of laws: (1) Assessment laws, which require hospitals to assess healthcare personnel influenza vaccination status; (2) Offer laws, which require hospitals to offer the influenza vaccine to healthcare personnel; and (3) Ensure laws, which require hospitals to require healthcare personnel to demonstrate proof of influenza vaccination. (more…)
Author Interviews, Infections, JAMA, Pediatrics / 26.04.2019 Interview with: Dr. Matthieu Domenech de Cellès PhD Biostatistics, Biomathematics, Pharmacoepidemiology, and Infectious Diseases Unit, Institut Pasteur, Inserm U1181, University of Versailles St-Quentin-en-Yvelines, Versailles, France What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: Most high-income countries now use acellular pertussis vaccines (called DTaP, which are sub-unit vaccines based on purified antigens of the bacterium Bordetella pertussis) to protect children against pertussis. Although clinical trials demonstrated the short-term effectiveness of DTaP vaccines, there was a growing concern that the duration of protection they conferred was not very long. Those concerns were mostly based on the results of a number of epidemiological studies, which showed that the relative risk of contracting pertussis increased substantially over time, typically by 20–40% every year since last vaccination. Although such increases seem high, it was not immediately obvious how to interpret them—the more so because pertussis epidemiology is complex. In our study, we developed mathematical models of pertussis epidemiology to try to understand what the results of recent epidemiological studies really meant about the effectiveness and the duration of protection of DTaP vaccines. The most interesting—and perhaps counterintuitive—finding of our study was that those results are fully consistent with highly effective DTaP vaccines, which confer long-term protection. This is a consequence of the fact that pertussis is highly contagious and that the immunity conferred by DTaP, though very high, is not perfect.    (more…)
Author Interviews, BMJ, Cancer Research, HPV, OBGYNE, Sexual Health, Vaccine Studies / 05.04.2019 Interview with: Dr. Tim Palmer Honorary Senior Lecturer Department of Pathology University of Edinburgh Edinburgh, UK What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?  Response: High risk HPV infection is the obligate cause of between 70 and 90% of cervical cancers, depending upon the country. The development of vaccines against the commonest hr-HPV types has the potential to reduce the burden of cervical cancer, especially in low and middle income countries that cannot afford screening programmes. Cervical cancer affects predominantly women in their 30s and is a major public health issue even in countries with well-established screening programmes. Scotland has had a successful immunisation programme since 2008, and women immunised at age 12 to13 have been screened since 2015. We can therefore demonstrate the effect of hr-HPV immunisation on the pre-invasive stages of cervical cancer. (more…)
AACR, Author Interviews, Cancer Research, HPV, University of Michigan, Vaccine Studies / 05.04.2019 Interview with: Diane Harper, M.D., M.P.H., M.S. Professor of Family Medicine and Obstetrics and Gynecology Senior Associate Director, Michigan Institute for Clinical and Health Research Physician Director for Community Outreach, Engagement and Health Disparities, Rogel Cancer Center Michigan Medicine What is the background for this study? Response: There is no current cure for women with HPV infection that has progressed to CIN 2/3 disease. The only treatment is for the diseased cervix, and does not eliminate the risk of another CIN 2/3 from the HPV infection 15-20 years later. This vaccine is made from a live virus that has 3 genes inserted:  human cytokine IL-2, and modified forms of HPV 16 E6 and E7 proteins. When the vaccine is injected subcutaneously, the proteins for HPV 16/E6 and E7 and the cytokine LI-2 proteins are made. These proteins trigger the immune response.  This is very different form imiquimod which is topical and not specific for HPV. (more…)
Author Interviews, Autism, Social Issues, University of Pittsburgh, Vaccine Studies / 26.03.2019 Interview with: Beth Hoffman, B.Sc., graduate student University of Pittsburgh Graduate School of Public Health Research Assistant, University of Pittsburgh Center for Research on Media, Technology and Health What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: Vaccine refusal is a public health crisis - low vaccination rates are leading to outbreaks of deadly vaccine-preventable diseases. In 2017, Kids Plus Pediatrics, a Pittsburgh-based pediatric practice, posted a video on its Facebook pagef eaturing its practitioners encouraging HPV vaccination to prevent cancer. Nearly a month after the video posted, it caught the attention of multiple anti-vaccination groups and, in an eight-day period, garnered thousands of anti-vaccination comments. Our team analyzed the profiles of a randomly selected sample of 197 commenters in the hopes that this crisis may be stemmed if we can better understand and communicate with vaccine-hesitant parents. We determined that, although Kids Plus Pediatrics is an independent practice caring for patients in the Pittsburgh region, the commenters in the sample were spread across 36 states and eight countries. By delving into the messages that each commenter had publicly posted in the previous two years, we also found that they clustered into four distinct subgroups:
  • “trust,” which emphasized suspicion of the scientific community and concerns about personal liberty;
  • “alternatives,” which focused on chemicals in vaccines and the use of homeopathic remedies instead of vaccination;
  • “safety,” which focused on perceived risks and concerns about vaccination being immoral; and
  • “conspiracy,” which suggested that the government and other entities hide information that this subgroup believes to be facts, including that the polio virus does not exist. 
Author Interviews, Infections, Vaccine Studies / 23.01.2019 Interview with: ValnevaThomas Lingelbach President & CEO of Valneva What is the background for this study? Would you briefly explain the significance of Chikungunya disease? Response: Chikungunya is a mosquito-borne viral disease caused by the Chikungunya virus (CHIKV), a Togaviridae virus, transmitted by Aedes mosquitoes. The chikungunya virus causes clinical illness in 72-92% of infected humans around four to seven days after an infected mosquito bite. People infected with chikungunya may suffer from acute onset of fever, debilitating joint and muscle pain, headache, nausea and rash, potentially developing into long-term, serious health impairments such as visual, neurological, heart and gastrointestinal manifestations that in some extreme cases can lead to fatalities. Chikungunya outbreaks have been reported in Asia, Africa, the Americas and Europe. As of 2017, there have been more than one million reported cases in the Americas. The medical burden is expected to grow as the CHIKV primary mosquito vectors continue to further spread geographically. Currently there are no preventive vaccines against Chikungunya making it a major threat to public health. We set out to develop VLA1553, a live-attenuated vaccine candidate, as a potential solution to the growing unmet need chikungunya poses. Our hope is that having a preventative vaccine for chikungunya will allow people living in endemic areas to have peace of mind while enjoying the outdoors. (more…)
Author Interviews, Diabetes, Infections, JAMA, Pediatrics, Vaccine Studies / 22.01.2019 Interview with: Dr Kirsten Perrett MBBS FRACP PhD Team Leader / Clinician-Scientist Fellow, Population Allergy, Murdoch Children's Research Institute Consultant Paediatrician, Department of Allergy and Immunology and General Medicine The Royal Children's Hospital Fellow, School of Population and Global Health The University of Melbourne Parkville, Victoria  Australia What is the background for this study? Response: Before rotavirus vaccines were available, rotavirus infection was the most common cause of severe gastroenteritis in infants and young children. Because it is so contagious, infection in childhood is thought to be universal in unvaccinated children. Previous studies indicated that rotavirus infection of infants might be an environmental promoter of type 1 diabetes. Therefore, we anticipated that the introduction of the rotavirus vaccine might alter the disease incidence in young children.  (more…)
Author Interviews, CDC, Infections, Pediatrics, Vaccine Studies / 18.01.2019 Interview with: Sarah Anne Mbaeyi MD MPH Division of Bacterial Diseases CDC What is the background for this study? Response: College freshman living in residence halls, though not college students overall, have previously been identified as being at increased risk for meningococcal disease. However, these evaluations were conducted in the 1990s when rates of disease were higher, serogroup C was the predominant cause of disease, and before the availability of quadrivalent meningococcal conjugate (MenACWY) or serogroup B meningococcal (MenB) vaccines. MenACWY vaccine is routinely recommended for all adolescents at age 11 years and 16 years, as well as unvaccinated or undervaccinated college freshmen living in residence halls. MenB vaccine is not routinely recommended for all adolescents or college students, but may be administered to persons aged 16-23 years, with the preferred age of 16-18 years, based on clinical decision-making. Meningococcal vaccines are also recommended during an outbreak, and in recent years MenB vaccines have been used during multiple outbreaks on college campuses. In this evaluation, we aimed to describe the current epidemiology of meningococcal disease among college-aged young adults in the United States. (more…)
Author Interviews, JAMA, Pediatrics, Transplantation, Vaccine Studies / 15.01.2019 Interview with: Amy G. Feldman, MD, MSCS Assistant Professor, Pediatrics-Gastroenterology, Hepatology and Nutrition Program Director, Liver Transplant Fellowship Children's Hospital Colorado University of Colorado Medicine What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: Pediatric solid organ transplant recipients are at increased risk for vaccine preventable infections due to life-long immunosuppressive medications.  The objectives of this study were to 1) evaluate in pediatric    solid organ transplant recipients the number of hospitalizations for vaccine-preventable infections in the first five years post-transplantation and 2) determine the associated morbidity, mortality and costs. In this multicenter cohort study of 6980 children who underwent solid organ transplantation from January 1, 2004, to December 31, 2011, at a center participating in Pediatric Health Information System (PHIS), 15% of individuals had at least 1 hospitalization for a vaccine-preventable infection in the first 5 years after transplant.  Children who received transplants when they were younger than 2 years and recipients of lung, intestine, heart, and multi-visceral organs were at increased risk for hospitalization with a vaccine-preventable infection.  Transplant hospitalizations complicated by a vaccine-preventable infection were $120,498 more expensive (median cost) and were on average 39 days longer than transplant hospitalizations not complicated by vaccine-preventable infections (more…)
Author Interviews, Baylor College of Medicine Houston, Infections, Microbiome, OBGYNE, Vaccine Studies / 30.11.2018 Interview with: Sasirekha Ramani, PhD Assistant Professor Molecular Virology and Microbiology Baylor College of Medicine Houston, TX What is the background for this study? Response: This work pertains to Rotavirus, a leading cause of diarrhea and vomiting in children under the age of 5 years. In this paper, we described our work with a rotavirus strain that almost exclusively causes neonatal infections. For many years, we have been trying to understand why this strain primarily infects newborns and why infection in some babies is associated with gastrointestinal symptoms while others are asymptomatic. A few years ago, we showed that this particular virus binds to developmentally-regulated glycans (sugars) in the gut as receptors. As the baby grows, these sugars get modified, and that potentially explains why infection with this virus is primarily restricted to neonates. However, we didn’t really have to answer to why there are differences in association with clinical presentations. (more…)
Author Interviews, CDC, Gastrointestinal Disease, Infections, Vaccine Studies / 15.11.2018 Interview with: "Day 19: Norovirus (stomach flu) visits our home." by Loren Kerns is licensed under CC BY 2.0Rachel M. Burke, PhD, MPH Epidemiologist, Viral Gastroenteritis Branch Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Atlanta, GA 30329 What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: Noroviruses are the leading cause of vomiting and diarrhea from acute gastroenteritis (inflammation of the stomach or intestines) among people of all ages in the United States. Each year in the United States, norovirus illness is responsible for an estimated 19 to 21 million cases of acute gastroenteritis, and contributes to 56,000 to 71,000 hospitalizations and 570 to 800 deaths, mostly among children and the elderly. CDC linked information from two different surveillance systems to analyze 3,747 norovirus outbreaks reported by health departments from 2009 to 2016. Our study provides a comprehensive description of norovirus outbreaks from the epidemiology and laboratory perspectives, using the National Outbreak Reporting System (NORS) and CaliciNet, respectively.  Norovirus outbreaks caused by GII.4 strains occurred more often in healthcare settings, affected older adults, and caused more severe illness, leading to hospitalization or death. (more…)
Author Interviews, Cost of Health Care, Global Health, Infections, Vaccine Studies / 13.09.2018 Interview with: Veronica Toffolutti PhD Research Fellow in Health Economics Bocconi University What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: Austerity has been linked to several health damaging effects such as suicides, increase in unmet needs, disease outbreaks that affect vulnerable peoples such as malaria in Greece, HIV in Greece and Romania during the current economic crises or in the earlier economic crisis cuts in public health expenditure have been linked with diphtheria and TB. Europe is experiencing declining vaccination rates and resurgences in measles incidence rates. Italy appears to be particularly affected reporting the second largest number, second to Romania, of infection in Europe in 2017. Starting from the point that the primary reason for the outbreak in the decline in the measles vaccination we test the hypothesis that large budget reductions in public health spending were also a contributing factor. Using data on 20 Italian regions for the period 2000-2014 we found that each 1% reduction in the real per capita public health expenditure was associated with a decrease of 0.5 percentage points (95% CI: 0.36-0.65 percentage points) in MMR coverage, after adjusting for time and regional-specific time-trends.  (more…)
Author Interviews, Cancer Research, Dermatology, Heart Disease, JAMA, Vaccine Studies / 10.09.2018 Interview with: Dr. Jeffrey Rapaport MD, PA Emeritus head of Dermatology Teaneck's Holy Name Hospital. Dr. Rapaport discusess a case recently reported in JAMA: In 2016: A 97-year-old female patient was suffering from multiple squamous cell carcinomas varying from small to incredibly large in size on both of her legs. She was injected with the HPV vaccine commonly known as Gardasil, which is also used to treat warts and oral papilloma. She was first injected in her arm, and then after a period of six weeks, the vaccine was directly injected into her tumors. It was observed that this treatment eventually killed off almost all the tumors on her legs. According to recent press coverage, she is now looking forward to celebrating her 100th birthday in fall 2018. What is the background for this study?Is HPV thought be a trigger for some cutaneous squamous cell carcinomas? Response: The link between skin cancers and HPV vaccinations has normally been investigated in patients who have received organ transplants. Due to the immune-suppressant drugs these patients must take, it is incredibly common to find cases of skin cancer in patients who have undergone transplants. The relaxed immune system, which would normally eliminate cancers caused by the HPV virus, would open the floodgates for multiple skin tumors to emerge. In this case of the 97 year old, I would assume her immune system was healthy. There is, however, growing evidence that receiving multiple vaccines for the HPV virus is necessary even in patients with healthy immune systems. So, regardless of immune health, I believe we need to expand the frequency of the HPV vaccine, even beyond the current three-tiered system for women below 26 and men below 21. (more…)
Author Interviews, Gastrointestinal Disease, Infections, JAMA, Pediatrics, Vaccine Studies / 07.09.2018 Interview with: Chuanxi Fu, MD.PhD. Professor of Epidemiology, School of Public Health Zhejiang Chinese Medical University Associate editor, Human Vaccines & Immunotherapeutics What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: Since 2000, the Lanzhou lamb rotavirus vaccine has been exclusively licensed in China for voluntary rotavirus gastroenteritis prevention, however, the effects of the vaccination on population health, including any indirect impact to unvaccinated individuals have not been evaluated. In the study enrolled 33 407 patients with rotavirus gastroenteritis from 2007 to 2015 seasons in southern China shows vaccination effects in which the median age at onset increased by 4 months, and onset, peak, and cessation of incidence were delayed. The incidence rate ratio among children younger than 4 years and among children ineligible for vaccination decreased as citywide vaccination coverage increased, and the adjusted odds ratio for rotavirus gastroenteritis among unvaccinated infants decreased in areas with higher vaccination coverage.  (more…)
Author Interviews, Dermatology, Vaccine Studies / 30.08.2018 Interview with: Eric Huang, PhD Professor, Department of Dermatology University of California, San Diego What is the background for this study? To whom would the vaccine be targeted?  Affected individuals?  Patients with strong family history? Resistant acne cases? Response: The background for this study is to develop vaccines to replace the antibiotics which may induce resistant bacteria. Preventive acne vaccines will be used for injection into elementary students to prevent the acne development when they become teenagers. Therapeutic acne vaccines using monoclonal antibodies will be used for those patients who already have acne vulgaris. Both patients with strong family history and resistant acne cases are highly recommended to use when the acne vaccines are available.   (more…)
Author Interviews, Endocrinology, Kaiser Permanente, Menopause, OBGYNE, Pediatrics, Pediatrics, Vaccine Studies / 30.08.2018 Interview with: Allison L. Naleway, PhD Senior Investigator Associate Director, Science Programs Center for Health Research Kaiser Permanente What is the background for this study? Response: Reports of premature menopause after human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccination have received a lot of media attention, including on social media, but these reports were based on a small number of isolated cases. Large studies have demonstrated the safety of HPV vaccination, but parental safety concerns—including potential impact on future fertility—are often cited as one reason for lower HPV coverage. Rates of HPV vaccination have lagged behind coverage rates for other recommended adolescent vaccinations, such as tetanus-diphtheria-acellular pertussis and meningococcal conjugate. (Based on national coverage estimates from 2016, 65% of 13–17 year-old females received at least one HPV vaccination and only 49.5% were up to date with the series, compared to about 88% of adolescents who received Tdap.) We conducted a study of nearly 200,000 young women to determine whether there was any elevated risk of primary ovarian insufficiency (POI) after HPV or other recommended vaccinations.  (more…)
Author Interviews, Infections, OBGYNE, Pediatrics, Vaccine Studies / 17.06.2018 Interview with: Sylvia Becker-Dreps, MD MPH Associate Professor, Department of Family Medicine Associate Director, Office of International Activities (Latin America Focus) Director, UNC Program in Nicaragua University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Chapel Hill, NC 27599-7595 What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?  Response: Pertussis (or whooping cough) is a respiratory infection caused by bacteria. It has been becoming more common in the US over the past two decades. Infants are more likely to be hospitalized and die of the disease. They are especially vulnerable in the first months of life because they have not yet had time to complete the DTaP vaccine series themselves. (Currently, infants receive 3 doses of DTaP at 2,4, and 6 months of age.) Immunizing mothers allows the mothers to pass antibodies against pertussis through the placenta and provide passive immunity to infants early in life. In early 2013, the CDC recommended that pregnant women receive a Tdap vaccine in every pregnancy. That recommendation was based on studies of the immune response to the vaccine, not real cases of pertussis. Our study examined clinical cases of pertussis in over 675,000 infants throughout the US. We found that in the first six months of life, infants of vaccinated mothers (those that received Tdap during pregnancy) had 75% less pertussis hospitalizations and 50% less pertussis cases overall.  (more…)
Author Interviews, PLoS, Vaccine Studies / 13.06.2018 Interview with: “Syringe and Vaccine” by NIAID is licensed under CC BY 2.0Melissa S Nolan, PhD, MPH Assistant Professor of Epidemiology Department of Epidemiology and Biostats Arnold School of Public Health University of South Carolina Columbia, SC 2920 What is the background for this study? Response: As the CDC says, “vaccines are one of the greatest success stories in public health”. In the US, fifteen different vaccines are currently available and recommendations are based on age group and medical indication. Estimates suggest that the US childhood vaccination program has prevented 381 million infections and avoided 855,000 deaths. Despite these astounding public health successes, a movement opposing childhood vaccinations has been growing. Medical contraindications do exist, and these children rely on others to be fully vaccinated to provide herd immunity for children that cannot get vaccinations for medical reasons. In contrast to this important vulnerable clinical population, other reasons for non-vaccination include religious and philosophical beliefs. A major reason for philosophical belief-exemptions is based on the erroneous belief that vaccines cause autism. With philosophical-belief based non-vaccinated populations on the rise, our current study aimed to better understand why some parents seek exemptions for their children. (more…)
FDA, Infections, Vaccine Studies / 08.05.2018 Interview with: Lisa Danzig, MD Chief Medical Office PaxVax Would you briefly explain what is meant by Chikungunya infection?  Whom does it primarily affect?  How is it transmitted and what the  complications? Response: Chikungunya is caused by the chikungunya virus (CHIKV), an arthropod-borne virus (arbovirus) spread by infected mosquitos. Infection with chikungunya virus results in severe, often debilitating joint pain in infected patients, known as arthralgia. Symptoms can include intense discomfort in joints, such as the wrists, fingers, ankles, and feet, in the knees and in the hips or shoulders. Those affected can also frequently suffer from headaches, fever, and severe muscle pain, rashes on the torso and limbs and swelling in one or more cervical lymph nodes. Individuals who are at a higher risk for contracting chikungunya include infants, elderly and those with chronic conditions. The virus is a small, spherical, enveloped, positive-strand RNA virus. The virus is transmitted by the Aedes aegypti and Aedes albopictus mosquito, which originated in Africa, first spreading to Asia and recently expanding to the western hemisphere.  Outbreaks are rapid and widespread.  In February 2005 a major outbreak of chikungunya occurred in the islands of the Indian Ocean after which over 1.9 million cases have been reported in India, Indonesia, Maldives, Myanmar and Thailand. Chikungunya spread has been identified in 45 countries in the Americas alone with more than 1.7 million suspected cases reported to the Pan American Health Organization since 2015, increasing the incidence of the disease and risk to U.S. travelers. In 2016 there were approximately 60,000 cases of chikungunya across India. Beyond the Indian subcontinent, the Caribbean, Central America and South America, inhabitants and travelers visiting sub-Saharan Africa and Southeast Asia are also at risk. (more…)
Author Interviews, Infections, Science, Vaccine Studies / 05.04.2018 Interview with: Matthieu Domenech de Cellès PhD Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI, USA. Biostatistics, Biomathematics, Pharmacoepidemiology, and Infectious Diseases Unit Institut Pasteur, Inserm, University of Versailles St-Quentin-en-Yvelines, Versailles, France. What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?   Response: Our main motivation was to elucidate an apparent paradox: Why has the US experienced a resurgence of pertussis (whooping cough) since the mid-1970s, despite persistently high vaccine coverage? A variety of hypotheses have been proposed to explain this resurgence, but most attention has focused on the potential shortcomings of the new generation of pertussis vaccines (called acellular pertussis vaccines). However, there remains considerable uncertainty about the degree and the mechanisms of protection conferred by pertussis vaccines. Via a collaboration with the local department of public health, we used detailed surveillance data in the state of Massachusetts to test a number of hypotheses about pertussis vaccines. We found that, although pertussis vaccines are imperfect (in the sense that they do not provide lifelong, 100% protection to 100% of children vaccinated), they are still highly efficacious. Specifically, we estimated that vaccine protection wanes over time, but slowly, with about 85% of children still protected 10 years after vaccination. Despite this high vaccine efficacy, we showed that the resurgence of pertussis was, in fact, to be expected. What happens is that the introduction of routine vaccination leads to an overall reduction in transmission, not only in vaccinated children but also in the population at large. Accordingly, those who escaped vaccination as children (as a consequence of incomplete vaccine coverage or imperfect vaccine protection) increasingly age having also avoided natural infection. As a result, the number of individuals susceptible to contract pertussis gradually increases. Because such people are the “fuel” of epidemics, this sets the stage for pertussis’ resurgence, with increasing incidence among older individuals. This overall effect is called the “end-of-honeymoon” and means that resurgence is therefore a predictable consequence of incomplete vaccination with efficacious, but imperfect, vaccines. Importantly, these results show that recent trends do not necessarily reflect recent changes in the epidemiology of pertussis. Rather, they may be interpreted as a legacy of past immunization practices, with long-to-manifest effects. This is a significant shift of perspective about pertussis epidemiology.  (more…)
Author Interviews, GSK, Herpes Viruses, Infections, Vaccine Studies / 10.03.2018 Interview with: Anthony. L. Cunningham, MD The Westmead Institute for Medical Research Westmead, NSW University of Sydney, Sydney, What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: This study examines the reasons why the HZ subunit vaccine candidate (HZ/su vaccine) consisting of a single viral protein, varicella-zoster glycoprotein E, and and adjuvant (immunostimulant) combination AS01B is so effective as a vaccine to prevent shingles (>90%), especially in those over the age of 70 years and 80 years, as published in recent trials i.e. it combats the declining immunity in the aging which usually restricts vaccine efficacy to under 60% in these age groups.  (more…)
Author Interviews, Infections, Pediatrics, Vaccine Studies / 23.02.2018 Interview with: Professor Julie Bines Inaugural Victor and Loti Smorgon Professor of Paediatrics and Deputy Head of Department of Paediatrics University of Melbourne. Murdoch Childrens Research Institute What is the background for this study? Would you briefly explain the significance of Rotavirus infections? Diarrhoea is one of the leading causes of child illness and death, and rotavirus is the most common cause of severe diarrhoea. Globally rotaviruses cause approximately 215,000 deaths in children under five years. This disease doesn’t discriminate – it infects children worldwide under the age of five – irrespective of what environment you live in. The rotavirus vaccines that are currently available work very well in places like Australia, the US and Europe but they don’t seem to work as well in low income settings in Africa and Asia where severe gastroenteritis is common and many children die. In a world-first clinical trial conducted in Indonesia, the oral RV3-BB vaccine was administered to babies within their first five days of life. Current rotavirus vaccines can only be administered to children older than six weeks, which leaves newborn babies particularly vulnerable to rotavirus infection. In lower resource settings, birth is often the best contact between mother, baby and health services. The oral RV3-BB vaccine was developed from the human neonatal rotavirus strain RV3 identified in the stool of healthy newborn babies. It does not naturally cause diarrhoea like other rotaviruses. The RV3-BB vaccine program aims to take advantage of the characteristics of this novel strain to target a birth dose vaccination strategy.  (more…)
Addiction, Author Interviews, Opiods, Vaccine Studies / 22.02.2018 Interview with: “Syringe and Vaccine” by NIAID is licensed under CC BY 2.0Candy Hwang, Ph.D. The Scripps Research Institute La Jolla, CA 92037 What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: Our heroin vaccine is designed to stimulate antibodies to recognize and bind heroin, preventing passage of drug molecules to the brain. By essentially blocking the “high” from heroin, we believe this will assist recovering addicts from relapsing. Last year, we reported a heroin vaccine that was shown to be effective in both mouse and non-human primate models. In this current study, we were interested in enhancing our heroin vaccine by exploring different vaccine components and dosages. Once we discovered the most promising vaccine formulations, we wanted to see if our vaccines would be stable under different storage conditions. We found that our heroin vaccine was shelf stable under different temperatures and as a powder or in liquid form, meaning that the vaccine will remain stable for transport and storage. The best vaccine formulation from these studies showed protection against lethal doses of heroin. (more…)
Author Interviews, Flu - Influenza, Vaccine Studies / 12.02.2018 Interview with: “#influenza” by J.S. Zolliker is licensed under CC BY 2.0Dr. Vittorio Demicheli Servizio Regionale di Riferimento per l'Epidemiologia SSEpi-SeREMI, Azienda Sanitaria Locale ASL AL Alessandria, Piemonte, Italy What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?  Response: The consequences of influenza in adults are mainly time off work. Only vaccination of pregnant women is recommended internationally, while mass vaccination of healthy adults is still matter of debate. The aim of this Cochrane Review is to assist informed decision making summarizing research that looks at the effects of immunizing healthy adults with influenza vaccines during influenza seasons. The review process found 52 clinical trials of over 80,000 adults. Only around 15% of the included studies were well designed and conducted. We focused on reporting of results from 25 studies that looked at inactivated vaccines. Injected influenza vaccines probably have a small protective effect against influenza and influenza-like illness (ILI_ (moderate-certainty evidence), as 71 people would need to be vaccinated to avoid one influenza case, and 29 would need to be vaccinated to avoid one case of ILI. Vaccination may have little or no appreciable effect on hospitalizations (low-certainty evidence) or number of working days lost. (more…)
Author Interviews, Flu - Influenza, Nature, Vaccine Studies / 26.01.2018 Interview with: “Syringe and Vaccine” by NIAID is licensed under CC BY 2.0Dr. Lei Deng PhD Postdoctoral researcher Institute for Biomedical Sciences at Georgia State University What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: Influenza A viruses evade human herd immunity by genetic hypervariation. Annual influenza epidemics are estimated to cause about 3 to 5 million cases of severe illness, and about 290,000 to 650,000 deaths. Vaccination is still the most effective way to prevent diseases, but current influenza vaccines provide limited protections against mismatched circulating virus strains. This drives scientists to develop universal influenza vaccines that can induce broad immune responses against all influenza A virus infections. We used biochemistry and nanotechnology to generate a double-layered protein nanoparticle universal influenza vaccine. The layered nanoparticle contains genetically modified influenza virus components without irrelevant carry/structural proteins and chemicals and confers strong and long-lasting immunity in laboratory mice against H1N1, H3N2, H5N1 and H7N9 infections. We also explain the protection mechanism of antibody dependent cell-mediated cytotoxicity (ADCC) and antibody dependent cell-mediated phagocytosis (ADCP) play the main role in the immune protection.  (more…)