Sunday July 22, 2018

HPV Vaccines Are Effective, Especially For Teens

The Cochrane research pooled data and results from 26 studies involving more than 73,000 women across all continents over the last eight years.

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She noted that some campaign groups have expressed concern about HPV vaccines, but said this review had found no evidence to support claims of increased risk of harm.
HPV Vaccine i effective on teenage girls, Pexels
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Vaccines designed to prevent infection with human papillomavirus (HPV) are effective in protecting against pre-cancerous cervical lesions in women, particularly in those vaccinated between age 15 and 26, according to a large international evidence review.

The research by scientists at the scientific network the Cochrane Review also found no increase in the risk of serious side effects, with rates of around 7 percent reported by both HPV-vaccinated and control groups.

“This review should reassure people that HPV vaccination is effective,” Jo Morrison, a consultant in gynecological oncology at Britain’s Musgrove Park Hospital, told reporters at a briefing about the review’s findings.

She noted that some campaign groups have expressed concern about HPV vaccines, but said this review had found no evidence to support claims of increased risk of harm.

HPV is one of the common sexually transmitted diseases. Most infections do not cause symptoms and go away on their own, but when the immune system does not clear the virus, persistent HPV infection can cause abnormal cervical cells.

Drugmakers GlaxoSmithKline and Merck make vaccines that protect against HPV.
A girls getting vaccine, VOA

These pre-cancerous lesions can progress to cervical cancer if left untreated. HPV is a leading cause of cancer deaths among women worldwide, according to the World Health Organization.

Drugmakers GlaxoSmithKline and Merck make vaccines that protect against HPV.

The Cochrane research pooled data and results from 26 studies involving more than 73,000 women across all continents over the last eight years.

The researchers found that in young women who tested negative for HPV, vaccination reduced the risk of developing precancer. About 164 out of every 10,000 women who got placebo developed cervical pre-cancerous lesions, compared with two out of every 10,000 who were vaccinated.

Also Read: Cholesterol Can Increase Risk of Alzheimer’s Disease, Finds Research

Looking more broadly across all women in the studies, regardless of whether they had previously had HPV or not, the vaccines were found to be slightly less effective, but still reduced the risk of cervical precancer from 559 per 10,000 to 391 per 10,000.

Experts not directly involved in the review said its findings were robust and important.

“This intensive and rigorous Cochrane analysis … provides reassuring and solid evidence of the safety of these vaccines in young women,” said Margaret Stanley, a specialist in the pathology department at Cambridge University. “It reinforces the evidence that preventing infection by vaccination in young women … reduces cervical precancers dramatically.” (VOA)

 

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Two New Ways To Prevent Cholera: Microbes Fighting Microbes

The research has so far only been done in animals

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A woman draws water from an unprotected well in Chigwirizano, a peri-urban area hit by a Cholera outbreak in Malawi.
A woman draws water from an unprotected well in Chigwirizano, a peri-urban area hit by a Cholera outbreak in Malawi. VOA

Two promising new ways to prevent cholera are on the horizon. One is an entirely new kind of vaccine. The other is as simple as a cup of yogurt.

Both may offer fast, cheap protection from explosive outbreaks of a disease that claims tens of thousands of lives each year.

The research has so far only been done in animals. Human studies are yet to come.

Cholera declawed

Cholera causes such serious diarrhea that it can kill within hours. Current vaccines take at least 10 days to work, don’t provide complete protection and don’t work well for young children.

One group of scientists working to create a better vaccine engineered cholera bacteria that are missing the genes that make the microbe toxic.

The researchers fed the modified bacteria to rabbits. The microbes colonized the animals’ guts but did not make them sick.

When the scientists then fed rabbits normal, disease-causing cholera 24 hours later, most of the animals survived.

Those that did get sick took longer to do so than rabbits given unmodified bacteria, or modified bacteria that had been killed. Those animals died within hours.

Doctors Giving vaccines
Doctors Giving vaccines, Pixabay

The engineered cholera bacteria provided protection much faster than a conventional vaccine. They acted as a probiotic: colonized the animals’ intestines in less than a day and prevented the disease-causing microbes from getting a foothold.

The researchers expect that the modified bacteria will also act like a typical vaccine, stimulating the body’s immune system to fight a future cholera infection.

“This is a new type of therapy,” Harvard University Medical School microbiologist Matthew Waldor said. “It’s both a probiotic and a vaccine. We don’t know the right name for it yet.”

The research is published in the Science Translational Medicine journal.

Yogurt solution

In another study in the same journal, a group of researchers discovered that a microbe commonly found in yogurt, cheese and other fermented dairy products can prevent cholera infection.

Bioengineer Jim Collins at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and colleagues had been working on genetically modifying the bacteria, known as Lactococcus lactis, to treat cholera.

It hadn’t been working.

But they accidentally discovered that unmodified L. lactis keeps cholera germs in check by producing acid that the disease-causing microbes can’t tolerate.

Feeding mice doses of L. lactis bacteria every 10 hours nearly doubled their survival rate from cholera infection.

“It was remarkably surprising and satisfying,” Colllins said. “We were really getting frustrated.”

They also designed a strain of L. lactis that turns a cholera-infected mouse’s stool red. It could be a useful diagnostic, for example, to identify those carrying the bacteria but not showing symptoms.

Collins said pills of L. lactis bacteria — or simply ample supplies of fermented milk products — could be “a very inexpensive, safe and easy-to-administer way to keep some of these outbreaks in check.”

Waldor said his group’s modified-cholera vaccine also could be grown and packaged in pills quickly and easily in case of an outbreak.

Both caution that these animal studies are a long way from new treatments for human patients. They need to be proven in clinical trials.

Microscopic Image Of a Virus
Microscopic Image Of a Virus, Pixabay

Beyond cholera

The two studies could not only have an impact on cholera, but could also influence how doctors treat other intestinal diseases and manage gut health, according to Robert Hall, who oversees research funded by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.

While fermented foods promising better health are widely available, “the studies with probiotics in the field have really seldom shown great effectiveness when they’re done scientifically,” Hall said.

The work Collins’s group did not only shows effectiveness, but explains how it works: by “making the intestine inhospitable” to cholera, he added.

Hall wrote a commentary accompanying the two studies.

Other gut diseases work the same way as cholera, he noted, so it’s possible that other microbes could be developed that block harmful germs from gaining a foothold while acting as vaccines at the same time.

Also read: Lack of Toilets, Clean Drinking Water Pose Cholera Threat in Rohingya Refugee Camps

“It’s a very exciting principle,” Hall said. (VOA)