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What’s that have to do with Biomedical Engineering? By: Jonathan Lloyd

What is a Vaccine? • A vaccine is an antigenic material that stimulate adaptive immunity to a disease. killed or inactivated forms of these pathogens. or purified material such as proteins. . The material administered can either be live but weakened forms of either bacteria or viruses. Vaccine’s are generally considered to be the most effective method of preventing infectious diseases. Vaccines can prevent the effects of infection by many pathogens.

. smallpox inoculation was started in India before 200 BC. The word vaccination was first used by Edward Jenner. Louis Pasteur furthered the concept through his pioneering work in microbiology.History of Vaccines • Smallpox was the first disease people tried to prevent by purposely inoculating themselves with other types of infections. In 1796 British physician Edward Jenner tested the possibility of using the cowpox vaccine as an immunization for smallpox in humans for the first time.

which provides a degree of immunity to smallpox. the relatively benign cowpox virus. Vaccination and immunization have the same meaning but is different from inoculation which uses unweakened live pathogens. The word "vaccination" was originally used specifically to describe the injection of the smallpox vaccine. a contagious and deadly disease.Vaccination • Vaccination (Latin: vacca—cow) is named because the first vaccine was derived from a virus affecting cows. .

political. Early success brought widespread acceptance. vaccinations can injure people and in the United States they may receive compensation for those injuries under the National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program. In rare cases. . and other grounds. medical safety. ethical. religious. on scientific. and mass vaccination campaigns were undertaken which are credited with greatly reducing many diseases in numerous area’s.Controversy? • Vaccination efforts have been met with some controversy since their inception.

Types of Vaccination • All vaccinations work by presenting a foreign antigen to the immune system so there will be an immune response. but there are several ways to do this. The four main types that are currently in clinical use are: .

Since the properly produced vaccine does not reproduce. booster shots are required periodically to reinforce the immune response. the vaccine is not infectious. but improper inactivation can result in intact and infectious particles. The virus particles are destroyed and cannot replicate. When manufactured correctly.Inactivated • An inactivated vaccine consists of virus particles which are grown in culture and then killed using a method such as heat or formaldehyde. . but the virus proteins are intact enough to be recognized and remembered by the immune system and evoke a response.

but very slowly. this risk is smaller in vaccines with deletions.Attenuated • In an attenuated vaccine. live virus particles with very low virulence are administered. Since they do reproduce and continue to present antigen beyond the initial vaccination. There is a small risk of reversion to virulence. boosters are required less often. They will reproduce. . Attenuated vaccines also cannot be used by immunocompromised individuals.

Subunit • A subunit vaccine presents an antigen to the immune system without introducing viral particles. and will induce antibodies that may not recognize the infectious organism. whole or otherwise. One method of production involves isolation of a specific protein from a virus or bacteria and administering this by itself. A weakness of this technique is that isolated proteins may have a different three dimensional structure than the protein in its normal context. “In addition. . subunit vaccines often elicit weaker antibody responses than the other classes of vaccines” (McBean 74).

These proteins can self-assemble into particles that resemble the virus from which they were derived but lack viral nucleic acid. virus-like particles are typically more immunogenic than subunit vaccines. . The human papillomavirus and Hepatitis C virus vaccines are two virus-like particle-based vaccines currently in clinical use. Because of their highly repetitive.Virus-Like • Virus-like particle vaccines consist of viral proteins derived from the structural proteins of a virus. meaning that they are not infectious. multivalent structure.

“Genetic engineering is the process of taking genes and segments of DNA from one species and putting them into another species. . thus breaking the species barrier and artificially modifying the DNA of various species” (Levine 11).Now the Important Stuff • Genetic engineering is a sub branch to biomedical engineering.

Genetic Engineering and Vaccines • Vaccination against a disease involves the injection of killed or weakened microorganisms into a person. as we know. . The killed or weakened microorganism is made by engineers believe it or not. virulent pathogens in the vaccine because of some error in the vaccineproducing process” (LeVine 78). “This procedure has always carried the risk of there being live.

“This genetic material is placed into bacteria or yeast host cells which then produce large quantities of subunit molecules by transcribing and translating the inserted foreign DNA” (Allen 23). and used as a vaccine. purified. To create a subunit vaccine.Vaccine Making (Subunit) • Genetic engineering techniques have been used to produce vaccines which use only the parts of an organism which stimulate a strong immune response. researchers isolate the gene or genes which code for appropriate subunits from the genome of the infectious agent. . Hepatitis B vaccine is an example of this type of vaccine. These foreign molecules can be isolated. Subunit vaccines are safe for immunocompromised patients because they cannot cause the disease.



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