Swine Flu: Does One Dose Suffice?
As the swine flu pandemic unfolds, it appears that
younger people are disproportionately susceptible. The median age has been
12 and 21 years in the US and Australia, respectively. Seventy nine
percent of laboratory proven infections are below 30 years of age and only
2 % are above 60 years. The reason seems to be exposure to the 1918 virus
or its descendants in the 1920’s and 1930’s. Therefore people born before
1930 have shown 100% antibody response when exposed to the novel H1N1
virus as against just 34% response in people born after 1950.
A study from Australia comparing the immune response in
>50 years olds versus <50year olds after a single 15µg dose of
unadjuvanted 2009 H1N1 vaccine
showed very robust immune response in both groups. The high level of
immune protection afforded by a
single 15µg dose should improve the coverage and logistics
of mass H1N1 vaccination programs (www.nejm.org September 10,
2009; Scientific American 11 September 2009).
Building on pioneering research by Russian scientists,
Braasch Biotech LLC has recently developed a second generation vaccine
which could be effective in a variety of unusual diseases. This vaccine
induces antibodies which attenuate but don’t entirely neutralize the
inhibitory functions of somatostatin. Hence it stimulates the body to
release growth hormone (GH) and insulin like growth factor-1 (IGF-1). The
vaccine is considered to be a potential way to treat growth hormone
deficiency, obesity, diabetes,
as well as potentially
several other important IGF-1 responsive neuronal disorders such as Rett
Initial preclinical trials in an obese mouse model have
shown significantly lower weight gain in mice who were vaccinated despite
being on a high fat diet.
While all mice ate a diet with 6 times the fat content of a normal diet,
at the conclusion of the study, vaccinated mice gained less than half the
weight of placebo vaccinated mice. In terms of human weight, this is
equivalent of a 200 pound individual gaining 30 pounds on a high fat diet,
while the vaccinated individual would only gain between 8-14 pounds.
The mechanism is considered to be the elevated IGF-1 levels which
contribute to fat burning.
Besides refining the vaccine and its formulation,
Braasch, in conjunction with the University of Iowa’s Center for
Biocatalysis and Bioprocessing, has developed scalable manufacture and
isolation processes to provide uniform vaccine for laboratory testing. The
new vaccine is designed for once-per-month treatment versus treatment
regimens using growth hormone drugs, which typically require daily
injection. (Medical News Today 1 September 2009)
Vaccine Against Cocaine Addiction
There is no good drug useful for cocaine de-addiction.
Hence a novel approach has been tried. A vaccine which induced antibodies
against cocaine was recently tested in humans. The antibodies bind to the
cocaine molecule and prevent it from crossing the blood brain barrier and
thus prevent the subsequent high. A placebo controlled double blind trial
of the vaccine in 94 drug abusers showed a 53% reduction in cocaine usage
for more than half of the trial period. With some improvements in the
vaccines constituents the efficacy is expected to go upto 80%. The real
challenge will be to enlist the help of big pharmaceutical companies.
(Scientific American 6 October 2009)