Immunization to prevent group B streptococcal disease: victories and vexations
The prevention of disease through immunization is one of the more remarkable achievements of medicine, one that was reached because of cooperation among many researchers and also businessmen, lawyers, politicians, and, of course, the public itself. But while some vaccines, such as that for polio, were eagerly developed and administered, there is no such enthusiasm for vaccines against group B streptococcal disease. Invasive infections caused by group B streptococci are very serious for newborn babies, who may die or suffer neurological damage. In the United States, an estimated 11,000 cases of neonatal group B streptococcal infection end in 2,500 deaths and 1,350 cases of brain damage. The bacteria also affect pregnant women and mothers of newborns, as well as individuals with diabetes, cancer, or other conditions which may alter immune function. While the development of an effective vaccine against group B streptococcus is well within the ability of modern medical science, there is great concern in the pharmaceutical industry that such a venture may prove costly indeed. At best, the development of vaccines is unlikely to produce a profit. Also, since the most obvious targets for a group B streptococcus vaccine would be young women and pregnant mothers, there are fears that lawsuits are almost certain to accompany the widespread administration of such a vaccine. The prevailing opinion of many pharmaceutical company representatives is that the recently enacted Vaccine Liability Act is unlikely to reverse the trend of expensive lawsuits. At a time when suitable vaccines are almost ready for clinical trial, the modern American desire for clear benefit with no risk at all is likely to stymie the achievement of immunity against group B streptococcus. (Consumer Summary produced by Reliance Medical Information, Inc.)
Publication Name: Journal of Infectious Diseases
What are the prospects for a universal influenza vaccine?
Developing a universal influenza vaccine that will be effective against all strains requires focusing on viral proteins that remain relatively stable. Other proteins change from year to year, which is why the composition of the vaccine must be changed every year.
Publication Name: Nature Medicine
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