‘Prevention is better than Cure’
From the time of inception of vaccination, to the present day’s breakthroughs, with scientific and technological advancements in the recent times, vaccination has been developed for many diseases which was once impossible. Vaccinations greatly reduced the prevalence of diseases and the low price of vaccines continues to improve the health of millions around the world. This has left no wiggle room to frown about the disease occurrence, with the availability of an opportunity for prevention. But, this is not exactly the reality, when we consider some of the dangerous diseases which are related to genetic makeup of a person, unlike the ones that are caused due to external agents. No worries though! Scientists across the globe are immensely working to understand these processes and devise a new vaccine for prevention. One such recent breakthroughs has now made vaccination for Cancer possible.
In March 2016, a team of British Scientists from University College London Cancer Institute, headed by Dr. Sergio Quezada and Professor Charles Swanton, uncovered how the genetic complexity of tumors can be recognized and exploited by our own immune systems, while exploring the genetic make-up of tumors. This groundbreaking discovery could pave the way for a whole range of new therapies that specifically activate special immune cells – called T cells – which then attack the cancerous tumor antigens. Researchers spotted rare “flag” proteins that act as immune system targets and are displayed on the surface of all of a patient’s tumor cells, wherever they might be in the body. Once the omnipresent antigens are isolated, potent immune system T-cells can be employed as homing missiles to zero in on them and destroy the cancer. This approach involves mapping the DNA in a patient’s tumor sample, which would help to overcome the ability of tumors to resist therapies by altering their genetic make-up. This fascinating research enables the immune system to specifically recognize and attack tumors, which wasn’t possible previously. This is very helpful in rendering customized treatments to the patients, based on their genetic makeup and using their immune system.
Vaccines are made using several different processes. They may contain live viruses that have been attenuated; inactivated or killed organisms or viruses; inactivated toxins; or merely segments of the pathogen. Recently, there has been a significant breakthrough in the development technique of vaccine itself, which has a potential to set new standards for the development of vaccines.
In April,2016, a team of Danish researchers from Department of Immunology and Microbiology, University of Copenhagen, have discovered a completely new and simple method for the development of vaccines. They have created a general and user-friendly platform for the development of a special type of effective and safe vaccines. The idea behind this new technique is to mimic the structure of a virus. This vaccine creates an overall virus-like structure, which constitutes an important danger signal for the body. This becomes a platform onto which harmless parts of the disease are glued, which are to be vaccinated against. This method is so effective that it can trick the immune system into attacking the body’s own cells, which may be used in the treatment of a number of serious diseases like cancer, which are not caused by foreign organisms. This research provides the structural building blocks that are essential to make the vaccines effective. This can be used directly for the development and testing of new vaccines against asthma, breast cancer, allergies and cardiovascular diseases. This new technique of vaccine development can be a game changer for low-income countries, as this simple tool will allow health professionals to produce complex vaccines in an effective, safe and cost-effective manner.
Government bodies are equally showing concern in spreading vaccination across the globe and saving the lives of people. The Global Vaccine Action Plan (GVAP) is a framework approved by the World Health Assembly in May 2012 to achieve the Decade of Vaccines vision by delivering universal access to immunization. If the immunization-specific goals of this vision are achieved, hundreds of millions of cases and 24-26 millions of future deaths will be averted by the end of the decade.