Category Archives: Vaccine

Biomedical research: allowing you and your pets to appreciate life to the fullest

Silhouette of Happy Family and Dog“You don’t realize what you’ve got until it’s gone.” You’ve undoubtedly heard a variation of this saying, and often, it’s all too true when it comes to your health or the health of your loved ones. How often do you take your health for granted? The number of medical advances we can take advantage of today are staggering- vaccines, organ transplants, blood transfusions, insulin, pain medication, allergy medication, antibiotics, skin grafts, prosthetics, pacemakers- the list goes on and on.

Researchers are working hard, often behind the scenes, to try to give you and your loved ones every possible chance to fight disease or injury. Often, biomedical research involves working with animal models to understand diseases and develop new drugs and treatments. But it’s not just for you- biomedical research is helping your pets, too!

The FDA recently approved three new drugs to treat cancer in dogs. Previously, canine cancer was treated with drugs that were approved for use in humans. But researchers have developed specialized drugs to treat mast cell tumors, mammary carcinoma and squamous cell carcinoma in man’s best friend.

“You don’t realize what you’ve got until it’s gone.” Thanks to biomedical research, we can enjoy our health and the health of our pets for much, much longer.

Read more about new canine cancer treatments here: http://consumer.healthday.com/cancer-information-5/mis-cancer-news-102/cancer-drugs-approved-just-for-dogs-691349.html

Read more about the benefits of biomedical research here: http://fbresearch.org/education/benefits-of-biomedical-research/

Horseshoe crabs: Saving lives, all in a day’s work

pixabay horseshoe crabIf you have ever taken medication, received a vaccine, or had a surgical implant, you should thank a horseshoe crab. These prehistoric-looking animals are actually really important to modern medicine. But why?

It’s all about their blue blood. Mammals have hemoglobin in their blood, which contains iron- hence the red color. But horseshoe crabs transport oxygen through their bodies via hemocyanin, which contains copper, making their blood blue.

Even more interesting is a compound in the crab’s blood called Limulus Amebocyte Lysate, or LAL. LAL binds to bacteria, viruses and fungi and acts to protect the animal’s system from infection. It’s worked pretty well- horseshoe crabs have been around since about 100 million years BEFORE the dinosaurs, and they’re still going strong!

This ability to bind endotoxins makes horseshoe crab blood incredibly useful- and valuable. LAL is the worldwide standard screening test for bacterial contamination, and it’s used to test drugs, vaccines and surgical implants. LAL can detect endotoxins as low as .1 parts per trillion!

The best part is that harvesting horseshoe crab blood doesn’t require the animals to be killed! The crabs are caught, blood is drawn, and they are put back into their environments, where their blood volume is replenished within about a week. Watch this video to see how it’s done, and read more about it here:

http://www.pbs.org/wnet/nature/episodes/crash-a-tale-of-two-species/the-benefits-of-blue-blood/595/

http://www.ksl.com/?sid=22797818

Bone cancer vaccine gives hope to dogs AND humans

iStock_000016358177XSmallA trial at the University of Pennsylvania’s school of veterinary medicine is introducing a groundbreaking treatment for dogs suffering from osteosarcoma. Dogs in the trial are receiving an experimental vaccine that trains the immune system to recognize tumor cells and to kill them- and it’s working!

More than 10,000 dogs are diagnosed each year with osteosarcoma, which is an aggressive type of bone cancer. Most dogs die within a year of diagnosis, but in this trial, many of the dogs in the study have survived for more than two years. Check out this video to see an update on Denali, a therapy dog enrolled in the trial.

The biology of canine osteosarcoma is the same as the biology of these tumors in children, so the information gained from this study could one day help children with osteosarcoma. There are also types of breast cancer that have similarities to osteosarcoma, so the human benefits aren’t limited to one type of cancer.

Researchers are looking for more dogs with osteosarcoma to participate in this trial. Does your dog qualify? If so, check out the link here for more information.

Canine melanoma vaccine coming soon!

jackrussellpixabayThe first therapeutic vaccine for cancer has been conditionally licensed by the USDA! And man’s best friend will benefit from it. This vaccine is intended as a treatment for dogs with stage II or stage III oral melanoma, and hopefully, it will dramatically improve the quality of life for pets suffering from this type of cancer.

Canine oral melanoma is very aggressive and can be difficult to treat. Melanoma tumors contain a protein called tyrosinase, and the vaccine works by introducing human tyrosinase into the dog’s body, which stimulates an immune response against the protein.

Because canine oral melanoma affects a small percentage of the dog population, using a vaccine as a treatment instead of a preventative seems to be the best option at this point. But if veterinarians were able to determine certain breeds or populations of dogs that were at risk, it’s possible that this treatment could be modified for use as a preventative vaccine.

By starting with a vaccine treatment for oral melanoma, it’s possible that this could lead to the development of vaccine treatments for other types of cancer. Interestingly, this development first began with basic animal research, moved into research in human treatments, and now it’s back to animals by benefiting man’s best friend! Who knows- this may lead to the development of human melanoma treatments. Read more about it here:

http://www.veterinarypracticenews.com/vet-dept/canine-practice/canine-melanoma-vaccine-gets-conditional-ok.aspx

Prospects for puppies with parvovirus: possibly pleasantly positive!

sick puppyAnyone who has worked at a vet clinic likely knows the nightmare called PARVO. Canine parvovirus is an extremely contagious viral disease that attacks white blood cells, can cause permanent damage to the heart, and is often fatal, even after expensive treatments. But thanks to geese, puppies may have a light at the end of the tunnel… and not that light!

While working on treatments for geese with West Nile virus, researchers at Avianax discovered that antibodies harvested from the yolks of goose eggs could be purified, put back into other birds, and effectively treat the animals.

Naturally, their next step was… saving puppies, of course! Incredibly, this new drug can work in as quickly as two days against parvovirus. So far, early tests are showing a 90% cure rate, and at a projected $75 a dose, this could be a game-changer! Trials will run through the fall of 2014, and the hope is that this treatment could be on the market by spring of 2015.

Avianax has also realized that these antibodies could potentially make a difference when it comes to treating rabies, dengue fever, bird flu, and some kinds of cancer. Human trials are considerably more expensive and time-consuming, so future studies are definitely further down the road, but this is something worth keeping an eye on!

http://bostonherald.com/business/business_markets/2014/06/trial_results_promising_for_curing_puppies_parvo

A single-shot cure for cancer

healthcareThat’s the goal: “a single-shot cure for cancer.” For Stacy Erholtz, a 49-year-old cancer patient battling multiple myeloma, a heavy dose of the measles virus put her in complete remission!

Mayo Clinic researchers injected patients with an engineered measles virus that is similar to the measles vaccine. But this wasn’t your normal vaccine; the virus was engineered to make it toxic only to cancer cells, and Stacy was given enough to vaccinate 10 million people.

The measles virus makes cancer cells group together and explode. This gets rid of the cancer cells and triggers the immune system to react against them. For Stacy, it worked. One other patient in the trial experienced a reduction in bone marrow cancer and tumor growth, but cancer returned after 9 months.

While success in one patient doesn’t prove that researchers have found this single-shot cure, it’s definitely a proof of concept. The virus killed cancer cells while leaving other body cells unharmed, and while cancer patients have been treated with viruses in the past, this is the first time that a patient with full-body cancer has experienced remission after virotherapy.

Virotherapy has been tested in animal models in the hope of developing treatments for breast cancer, endometrial cancer, gallbladder cancer, and even canine cancer. A single-shot cure for cancer could revolutionize treatments for our loved ones and pets! Read more about this particular study here:

http://www.cnn.com/2014/05/15/health/measles-cancer-remission/

Measles outbreak traced to vaccinated patient

Sick boy child 2A measles outbreak traced back to a person who was fully vaccinated against the disease shows that nothing is foolproof. Birth control pills prevent pregnancy 99% of the time, your GPS system is about 95% accurate, and only 62% of people read an entire article after they’ve clicked on it. Stay with me- this one’s worth reading.

The measles vaccine is over 95% effective, which is pretty good, but still not perfect. The biggest cause for concern with recent measles outbreaks is the lack of vaccinations. That’s why delaying or avoiding vaccines is even more dangerous than you may think. As the percentage of people choosing not to vaccinate due to personal beliefs increases, the number of people who could potentially carry the disease also increases dramatically. This particular outbreak may prompt a different surveillance strategy, which is good for everyone, but the biggest harm still comes from vaccine refusal.

And we are seeing the results- so far this year, the number of reported measles cases in California is twelve times higher than it was at this time last year. This coincides with an increased number of personal vaccine exemptions filed in the state.

Still not convinced? Watch this to hear parents who found out about the dangers of NOT vaccinating the hard way. Research in humans and animals has shown vaccine safety time and time again- so please, make sure that your loved ones don’t become statistics! Now, are you in that 62%? If so, share this article with your friends!

Nanovaccines: Little particles with big possibilities

syringeMost vaccines are injectable or inhaled solutions- needing refrigeration- that contain killed viruses or fragments of viruses that the body’s immune system will recognize. But researchers are working on creating nanovaccines, which also contain killed viruses, but in really small synthetic particles (think 1/1,000,000th of a millimeter) instead of suspended in solution like traditional vaccines. These particles are designed to be thermally stable, so they can be stored at room temperature for 6-10 months and still be effective. The goal is to maximize these vaccines so they can be delivered via nasal spray in only one dose, eliminating follow-up boosters! Nanovaccines have been effective in rodents, and studies in larger animals are already underway.

This could make a huge difference to EVERYONE receiving vaccines by reducing inconveniences associated with refrigeration, maximizing efficiency of nasal delivery, and eliminating the need for follow-up boosters. In 2012, only about 1/3 of teenage girls in the United States actually received all three doses of the HPV vaccine. In 2011, only 9% of children worldwide received all three doses of the rotavirus vaccine. Vaccine compliance could be dramatically increased by eliminating the need for booster shots, and availability could be greatly improved by eliminating the need for refrigeration! Let’s hope that researchers can create effective nanovaccines that will work in humans!

http://consumer.healthday.com/diseases-and-conditions-information-37/misc-diseases-and-conditions-news-203/no-fridge-nasal-vaccines-on-the-drawing-board-685870.html

Lyme Disease vaccinations- but they’re not for you…

MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERALyme Disease is a tick-borne illness that affects over 300,000 people in the United States alone each year. Infected blacklegged ticks can transmit the disease to humans. Lyme Disease is no joke; untreated infections can damage the heart, joints, and nervous system. And although many people think that deer are the main cause of the spread of the disease (blacklegged ticks are commonly called deer ticks), the most common carrier of Lyme Disease is the white-footed mouse.

Currently, there are no human vaccines for Lyme Disease. So researchers are trying to tackle the problem in a different way- by vaccinating mice! They developed an oral vaccine, mixed it into an oatmeal pellet, and baited plots of land with these pellets. The theory is that ticks feeding on vaccinated mice would ingest the antibodies made in the mouse’s body, thus killing any bacteria carried by the ticks, and preventing them from transmitting the disease to humans. And it works- researchers saw a 76% decrease in infected ticks on the treated plots of land.

Right now, scientists are working on USDA approval for the vaccine pellets. If approved, hopefully this will make a big difference in reducing the number of cases of Lyme Disease in humans- and as an added bonus, it won’t hurt the animals or the environment!

http://www.newscientist.com/article/dn25168-mouse-vaccine-could-protect-humans-from-lyme-disease.html#.UyYkBPldWSo

Vaccines, autism, and the link that doesn’t exist

Little baby get an injectionEvery once in awhile, stories start circulating about a link between vaccines and autism. And parents everywhere start to freak out. It’s not surprising that this issue evokes such strong feelings- I would freak out, too, if I hadn’t done my research.

Back up- a bit of history. In 1998, Dr. Andrew Wakefield claimed to have found a link between autism and the MMR vaccine. Read more about it here. Turns out, he was being paid by lawyers who were trying to sue vaccine manufacturers, his work was never able to be replicated, and he misrepresented or altered the medical histories of all 12 patients in his study. Wakefield was stripped of his medical license in 2010, and his work was considered fraudulent.

But the damage had been done. Parents everywhere freaked out; as soon as Wakefield started promoting his results to the media, vaccination rates in the U.K. dropped dramatically, and Europe faced a measles epidemic in 2008.

There has been plenty of credible, scientific research to show that vaccines aren’t linked to autism. And it should make you feel better that scientists continue to work with mice and rats to determine vaccine safety. Bonus- rats are actually extremely helpful in understanding autism, as well.

Moms, I get you- the last thing you want to do is jeopardize your child’s health! But in order to make the best decision for your family, listen to the science behind the arguments. Before you circulate articles meant to sway someone towards a medical decision that could impact THEIR child’s health, make sure you know what you’re talking about first!

Do you agree? Then SHARE this on social media! One biased, anti-vax article with no scientific evidence can get 10,000 shares. If you like this post, please share, share, share, and let’s get the word out there!