vaccines

Two earlier posts in this series explored what is a virus and what is a vaccine as well as the types of vaccines under development. As with the type of vaccine, the type of virus is as important when developing a vaccine. You might ask: Why do we need a new flu shot every year? Why isn’t there a vaccine for HIV? How do these issues translate to the new COVID-19 vaccine? Excellent questions all, that are answered by understanding the differences between viruses. Influenza, the virus which causes the flu, has a genome made of eight independent segments. The eight segments in one strain of the flu can easily mix with the segments in other strains of the flu, creating what is called a “shift”...
Much like drugs, vaccine candidates that seem promising during laboratory research are assessed and validated based on their performance in clinical trials. In the U.S., making it to this step requires a trial sponsor to submit an Investigational New Drug (IND) application to the FDA for review. 6 This application most commonly highlights technical data on immunogenicity — the ability to elicit a targeted immune response —, the mechanism of action from animal testing, and importantly, the resources needed for scaling up production. 6 In a recent vaccine-development-focused installment of the popular American Public Health Association and National Academy of Medicine’s webinar series, COVID-...
What is a Virus? Viruses are tiny parasites that can cause disease. 1 While there are many types of viruses, they all contain genetic material, known as the viral genome, and a surrounding shell made of proteins and lipids. The SARS-CoV2 virus, responsible for COVID-19, is about 125 nm wide, 1,000 times smaller than the width of a human hair. 2 SARS-CoV2 is an RNA virus, meaning that the internal genetic material is single-stranded RNA. This RNA is packaged inside of the virus with the “N” protein while the “S”, “E”, and “M” proteins are components in the outer lipid shell. The “S” protein is the one that sticks out from the virus giving the appearance of a crown. The Latin word for crown...
As scientists work towards a COVID-19 vaccine, they are faced with the decision of which type of vaccine to choose. Here, we review the different types of vaccines, how they work, some examples, and current COVID-19 trials in each category. For additional information on the science behind vaccine approaches for covid-19, take a look at Research!America’s COVID-19: By the Science infographic. Live-attenuated vaccines Live-attenuated vaccines use a weakened form of the germ (bacteria or virus) that causes the disease. Scientists weaken the germ by altering its genetic code to prevent the germ from rapidly replicating in human cells. This weakened form can no longer cause the disease, but the...
Dear Research Advocate, Let’s cut to the chase : There is so much at stake right now as Congressional leadership and the Administration negotiate the next COVID-19 supplemental, timing included. It’s a ‘now’ situation for Americans and those who represent them; it’s a ‘now’ situation for advocates, too. Research!America sent a letter to Congressional leadership urging them to include at least $26 billion in supplemental research funding in the legislation. Now is the time to meet the moment — don’t let disappointment or fatigue set in — your advocacy has worked in the past and it can work again! Reach out now and encourage your Members of Congress to weigh in with negotiators to achieve a...
Dear Research Advocate, “Hopefully, the urgency that everyone is seeing around COVID-19 will translate into bigger investments for global health vaccines.” — Dr. Peter Hotez Renowned vaccinologist and prolific author Dr. Peter Hotez, Dean of the National School of Tropical Medicine at Baylor College of Medicine and Co-director of the Texas Children’s Hospital Center for Vaccine Development, joined us yesterday for an alliance member call. Dr. Hotez spoke about the history of life-saving vaccines, COVID-19 vaccine development, and the alarming spread of the novel coronavirus across the southern hemisphere. He also spoke about the anti-science and anti-vaccine movements in our country and...
Research!America hosted an alliance member call for members and partners on April 13, 2020 with Dr. Robert Redfield, Director, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Dr. Redfield opened with an overview of the COVID-19 pandemic and the CDC’s response. He stressed that COVID-19 is the greatest public health challenge the United States has faced in over a century and highlighted the CDC’s deployment of personnel, development and expansion of serology testing, and distribution of funding to state, local, and tribal public health departments. He also emphasized that our nation should use this time to expand the existing public health infrastructure in order to be better prepared for future...
Dear Research Advocate, In their different ways, Super Tuesday and COVID-19 both speak to public sentiment. What are Americans’ expectations for those who represent them in Washington — and candidates who want to represent them in Washington — when it comes to promoting and protecting their best interests? A new Research!America-commissioned survey (in the field just days before COVID-19 captured worldwide public attention) found that Americans want their policymakers to consult with public health professionals and scientists; are deeply concerned about a diversity of public health issues affecting their families, their communities, and our nation as a whole; and believe there should be...
“Many or most public health issues are inherently local, but the federal government still has an important role to play, and they have resources to bare when needed,” said Chrissie Juliano , Executive Director of the Big Cities Health Coalition (BCHC) . On September 23, 2019, the BCHC and the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) , a Research!America member, addressed this topic in a briefing titled “The Measles Outbreaks of 2018/2019: Perspectives from Local Communities.” At this event, along with Ms. Juliano, spoke Dr. Colleen Kraft , Immediate Past President of AAP; Dr. Oxiris Barbot , Commissioner of the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene; and Dr. Jeffrey Gunzenhauser...
“Every two minutes, one more woman dies from cervical cancer,” stressed Anna Giuliano, PhD, of the Moffitt Cancer Center . One of several speakers at the briefing “Let’s End HPV-Related Cancers” on June 27, Dr. Giuliano emphasized the severity of cervical cancer and other cancers that are linked to human papillomavirus (HPV). This should give us pause because HPV is the most common STI – most people will be exposed at some point in their lifetime, and it has been referred to as the “common cold of STIs.” Like the common cold, HPV has different strains that have different effects on humans. At its least harmful, HPV can result in no symptoms, but at its most dangerous, it can lead to deadly...

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If concerted, long-term investments in research are not made, America will lose an entire generation of young scientists.
Brenda Canine, PhD; McLaughlin Research Institute, Montana