National Immunization Awareness Month - Immunization News

July 31, 2017 Jeanette Stern

Vaccine Patch, Innovative Therapy for Type 1 Diabetes and Other Immunization News

The road can be a long one in search of a cure. But along the way, preventative measures considerably ease the suffering and cost incurred by an acute or chronic illness. Research into new vaccines targeting age-old diseases and ones relatively new on the scene are making the news daily. The following are some of the hot topics in the field of Immunizations.

Vaccine Patch

This June, exciting news on the horizon for the future of vaccine administration. Georgia Institute of Technology along with the Emory University School of Medicine have been testing new technology which would be an alternative to standard hypodermic needle administration for vaccines. This patch technology involves hundreds of microscopic needles that are attached to the underside of a band-aid like adhesive patch. This patch would not require refrigeration, allowing for easy storage and even possibility of being sent through the mail. Also, the administration could be easily performed by unskilled persons, eliminating the obstacle of needing trained medical personnel for vaccine administration. On the US home front, this could greatly increase the number of persons who opt for the annual flu vaccine. The CDC reported that during the 2016 flu season only an estimated 40% of people actually received the flu shot. Self-administration at home would take the hassle out of long waits at the doctor's office and exorbitant office visit fees and co-pays. This technology is not limited to the flu vaccine, but is applicable to other potentially life-threatening and preventative diseases such as measles. Every year 20 million persons worldwide are infected with measles and an estimated 400 children die daily from measles related complications. There is great hope that the vaccine patch could make vaccines available to many in the remote regions of the developing world, greatly reducing fatalities.

Zika Vaccine

Trials have already begun in parts of the US and Central and South America to evaluate the effectiveness of an experimental Zika vaccine. The second phase of the double-blind trialhas already begun and will be 2 years in duration. The Zika virus made news headlines in 2015 after babies in South America, particularly Brazil, were born with microcephaly, secondary to maternal Zika infection. Microcephaly is a birth defect in which the brain of the growing fetus does not develop normally. Many babies born with microcephaly die prematurely and those that do survive their infancy are left with developmental delays, some of which are severely debilitating. Zika is transmitted by the Aides aegypti mosquito found in the tropics and signs and symptoms of Zika infection are not always evident as many infected adults are asymptomatic. Women are not only at risk of unknowingly transmitting this virus to their infants, but men can also transmit the virus to their sexual partners as the virus is able to survive in semen for up to 6 months.

Alternative Uses of BCG

Science News reports of an FDA-approved clinical trial that has began to test the BCG (bacillus Calmette-Guerin) vaccine for its potential restorative effects to pancreatic tissue that has been damaged by immune system attack. Type 1 Diabetes is an autoimmune disorder in which the bodies own immune systems malfunctions sending out T cells to destroy pancreatic tissue which is mistakenly read as an infection. The BCG vaccine is commonly used for tuberculosis prevention but has recently been investigated for use in treatment and reversal of autoimmune diseases. Preliminary trials in mice showed reversal of advanced type 1 diabetes and follow-up human clinical trials were carried out, the results of which will be published later this year. Other potential applications of the BCG vaccine would be for autoimmune diseases such as MS (multiple sclerosis). A double-blind study reported on by Neurology showed that MS diagnosed patients who were treated with BCG 6 months before starting immunomodulating therapy, showed less brain lesions on MRI than those who received a placebo.

Immunizations are just one of the many ways that optimal health can be maintained and for disease prevention. Contact us on what we are doing to connect with clients and their health plans through our expanded care network.

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