Bill and Melinda Gates make the case for investment in global development and vaccines
Bill and Melinda Gates released their traditional annual public letter, styled as a report to Warren Buffett.
By Melvin Sanicas

Bill and Melinda Gates released their annual letter, styled as a report to Warren Buffett on his investment of over $30 billion in their work. Bill and Melinda emphasize the value of global development and stress the importance of vaccines — which they call one of the best deals in global health.
Five HIV patients left 'virus-free' with no need for daily drugs in early vaccine trials
A new vaccine-based treatment for HIV has succeeded in suppressing the virus in five patients, raising hopes further research could help prevent Aids without the need for daily drugs. Researchers combined two innovative HIV vaccines with a drug usually used to treat cancer in the trial, conducted over three years at the IrsiCaixa Aids Research Institute in Barcelona.
funny story

when I was around 11 years old, the school was making us get vaccine shots for something, i dont remember but i missed one of the days to get the shot at school so I had to go to a clinic to get it myself.

so while i was at the clinic with other random people here to get their own shots for whatever, I walked up to this nurse in the middle of the room. now at this time, i didnt really pay attention to the type of vaccine i needed to get. So imagine, a 11 year old going to a nurse in the middle of a crowded clinic, asking,



the entire room just bursted out laughing at my 11 year old self and i didn’t know why until i remembered this moment like last year

Seeking SciNote, Biology: CRISPR


What do geneticists think will be possible when the the new gene-splicing CRISPR is fully operational on patients?


For those of us unfamiliar, CRISPR is a revolutionary new genetic splicing technology. Gene splicing refers to modifications to a gene transcript that can result in different proteins being made from a single gene. Interestingly, CRISPR’s inception began when dairy scientists discovered that bacteria used to create yogurt (by transforming lactose into lactic acid) had incorporated snippets of benign viruses into its genome. To their surprise, the incorporated DNA would create toxic agents to thwart infective viruses. In 2007, dairy scientists realized that they could effectively fortify bacteria by adding spacer DNA, which does not code for any protein sequence, from a virus. Then, five years later, as Time Magazine writer Alice Park skilfully describes, professors Jennifer Doudna and Emanuelle Charpentier noticed “up to 40% of bacteria developed a particular genetic pattern in their genomes. What they found were sequences of genes immediately followed by the same sequence in reverse, known as palindromic sequences. Further, bits of random DNA bases cropped up after each such pairing and right before the next one. After the dairy bacteria transcribed its spacer DNA and palindromic sequence into RNA, it self-spliced those segments into shorter fragments, with an enzyme called CAS9”. As you may be wondering, CRISPR stands for “clustered regularly interspaced short palindromic repeats”.

It is important for us to emphasize the versatility of this method. In the 2007 article, Doudna and Charpentier go into depth regarding the many benefits of the new genetic technology. These include the potential to “systematically analyze gene functions in mammalian cells, study genomic rearrangements and the progression of cancers or other diseases, and potentially correct genetic mutations responsible for inherited disorders”. As you might imagine, this opens up possibilities that were previously science fiction. Currently, painful blood transfusions are commonplace in the treatment of many diseases such as sickle cell anemia. Sickle cell affects red blood cells, which are made by stem cells in bone marrow. Soon, Massachusetts Institute of Technology synthetic biologist Feng Zhang envisions that this will soon no longer be necessary. She predicts that after doctors extract some of the marrow, scientists will splice out the defective fragment of DNA using CRISPR from the removed stem cells, then bathe the cells in a solution containing the non-sickle-cell sequence. As the DNA repairs itself naturally, it picks up the correct sequence and incorporates it into the stem cell genomes. After this one-time procedure, the stem cells would give rise to more red blood cells with the healthy gene. Eventually, the blood system would be repopulated with normal cells.

The treatment of HIV using CRISPR would be very similar. In this potential treatment, “patients would provide a sample of blood stem cells from their bone marrow, which would be treated with CRISPR to remove the CCR5 gene, and these cells would be transplanted back to the patient. Since the bone marrow stem cells populate the entire blood and immune system, the patient would eventually have blood cells that were protected, or “immunized,” against HIV”.

Despite this extraordinary potential, no biological technology comes without serious ethical concerns. As Jennifer Douda says herself, CRISPR “really requires us to careful thought to how we employ such a tool: What are we trying to do with it, what are the appropriate applications, how can we use it safely?”

Check out her book The Stem Cell Hope for learning about the future of stem cell technology.

Park, Alice. “A New Gene-Splicing Technique.” 100 New Scientific Discoveries: Fascinating, Unbelievable and Mind-expanding Stories. New York, NY: TIME, 2014. 92-95. Print.

Park, Alice. “It May Be Possible To Prevent HIV Even Without a Vaccine.” Time. Time, 6 Nov. 2014. Web.

Doudna, Jennifer A., and Charpentier, Emmanuelle (2014). The new frontier of genome engineering with CRISPR-Cas9. Science, 346(6213), 1258096–1258096. doi:10.1126/science.1258096

Answered by: Teodora S., Expert Leader and Expert John M.

Edited by: Carrie K.
Scientists testing HIV cure report 'remarkable' progress after patient breakthrough
Early tests by UK universities give grounds for optimism after patient shows no sign of virus following treatment
By Haroon Siddique

UK scientists and clinicians working on a groundbreaking trial to test a possible cure for HIV infection say they have made remarkable progress after a test patient showed no sign of the virus following treatment. The research, being carried out by five of Britain’s top universities with NHS support, is combining standard antiretroviral drugs with a drug that reactivates dormant HIV and a vaccine that induces the immune system to destroy the infected cells.


Newly discovered “teenage” anti-body could mean knocking out HIV for good

An HIV vaccine could finally be on its way, thanks to the discovery of an immature antibody. Researchers discovered an odd antibody in a Chinese patient whose immune system could fight against the virus. The antibody looked a lot like the well-known VRC01 antibody, known to “broadly neutralize” HIV but it wasn’t fully developed, so the researchers called it a “teenage” antibody. How it could be “important for developing a universal HIV vaccine.“

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anonymous asked:

I'm not against vaccination. But I'm curious and want to learn more about it. I'm just wondering why some people get sick from vaccines? Because many of my friends are against vaccination and I don't know what to say to them when they bring that up.

Hey friend!

So happy you want to seek out more information! Yay knowledge!

Vaccination in and of itself will not make you sick.  They are rigorously tested before they are brought into use in the general population. The whole point of vaccination is to prevent sickness!  

Illness reactions from vaccines can come from three means:

1. Egg allergy: Chicken embryos are sometimes used to prepare the vaccine, thus these vaccines contain egg protein.  If an individual has an egg allergy they might experience illness not because of the virus but because of the egg.  This can be avoided by talking to your doc or nurse about finding egg-free versions of vaccines.

I think the next two were what your friends were talking about.

2. Mild side effects:  Some vaccines do contain live strains of the illness. In someone with only a young immune system or a suppressed immune system (e.g. a baby, someone with HIV) getting a vaccine could cause them to become very sick because their body doesn’t have the knowledge and/or the resources to fight the illness when it is inject into their body. 

Most people, thankfully, don’t have this problem and our immune systems fights off the illness in the body, creating acquired immunity. This “memory” immunity will be enacted the next time the body comes into contact with the same virus. As with any medication side effects are possible. After vaccination side effects such as soreness in the vaccinated arm, mild fever, muscle soreness, or general feelings of being unwell are common.  These last for a couple hours to a day or so, just depending on individual differences.  More severe reactions are common but these are very rare (for example, Hep B vaccine severe adverse side effects reported were approximately one event per 600,000 vaccine doses distributed).

3. Vaccine mismatch: Every year or so a new strain of the influenza mutates. This is the strain that gets people sick during flu season (read more here). Each year researchers try to predict what this new strain is going to be and they create a vaccine based on this guess (this is much more scientific than I’m making it sound, I’m sure).  Sometimes this vaccination works great, the vaccination matched the strain that is floating around during flu season, but sometimes it doesn’t match (like this year, or during the H1N1 pandemic). 

When the vaccine doesn’t match the circulating strain, a person who is exposed to the flu and does not have the acquired immunity from the vaccine to fight off the illness may becomes ill.  I think this is where you will hear a lot of people saying, “I got the flu shot but I got so sick! Must not work!!!” 

So there you have it! Myth busted :)

Other friends, did I forget anything, or anything to add? 


Seeking Justice Through Vaccines, These Famous Artists Are Standing Up For Change

Beloved portrait photographer Annie Leibovitz often captures celebrity subjects before her noted lens, having snapped cultural icons ranging from John Lennon and Yoko Ono to Kim Kardashian and Kanye West.

Her most recent photograph, however, depicts a different sort of notable figures, those linked to the development of several life-saving vaccines.

(Source: Katharine Dowson A Window to the Future of an HIV Vaccine)


HIV Vaccine Causes HIV 

“A new study shows that an experimental vaccine manufactured by Merck actually increased the risk of contracting HIV infection in recipients. This is just another case of vaccines actually bringing on the disease they’re meant to cure.“

Sexiest Scientist Alive 2014 - Hendrik Streeck


People Magazine voted Chris Hemsworth “Sexiest Man Alive”, but for the first time People Magazine went beyond Hollywood glamour and named Dr. Hendrik Streeck the “Sexiest Scientist” alive.

Dr. Streeck is MD and PhD, teaching at the Uniformed Services University of Health Sciences and at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. His high-profile HIV research is well known in the field and he is  good-looking….. Dr. Streeck was included in People’s list of “Sexy Men at Work” dedicated to “experienced, talented professionals [who] have skills and qualifications that go beyond Hollywood.” People listed Dr. Streeck alongside names like sexiest chef Marc Murphy and sexy snake charmer Evan Antin.

US vaccine researcher sentenced to prison for fraud

Rare is the scientist who goes to prison on research misconduct charges. But on 1 July, Dong-Pyou Han, a former biomedical scientist at Iowa State University in Ames, was sentenced to 57 months for fabricating and falsifying data in HIV vaccine trials. Han has also been fined US$7.2 million and will be subject to three years of supervised release after he leaves prison.

His case had a higher profile than most, attracting interest from a powerful US senator. Han’s harsh sentence raises questions about how alleged research fraud is handled in the United States, from decisions about whether to prosecute to the types of punishments imposed by grant-making agencies.

“This seems like a very light penalty for a doctor who purposely tampered with a research trial and directly caused millions of taxpayer dollars to be wasted on fraudulent studies,” Grassley wrote in a February 2014 letter to the ORI. The office can issue lifetime funding bans, but former ORI officials say that such punishment is reserved for especially egregious cases, such as those in which human subjects could have been endangered.

Biomedical scientist Dong-Pyou Han (centre) confessed to fabricating and falsifying data on an HIV vaccine. Charlie Neibergall/AP/PA