Vaccination of Humans


In 1796 Edward Jenner inoculated a young boy with cowpox infected material from cows then demonstrated that he was protected against a subsequent challenge with the variola agent smallpox. This is universally accepted as the first step in the development of the modern vaccination technique. For almost one century, vaccination meant take infectious agents or part of them, inactivate them using heat or chemical treatments and inoculate these products into humans. Modern techniques, such as recombinant deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA), polysaccharide conjugation and, more recently, the genomic approach, have allowed not only to obtain safer vaccines, but also to develop new products against those agents for which a vaccine had not been yet developed. Vaccines have been one of the most effective means of combating deadly infectious diseases in the near past and they will also become an important tool to fight some plagues of our time, such as tumours, chronic and autoimmune diseases and allergies.

Key Concepts:

  • People who survive an infectious disease, generally, do not develop the same disease again.

  • Vaccination means to expose the body to biological material that mimics the infectious agents giving protection without suffering disease.

  • Vaccines are the most effective tool to combat deadly infectious agents.

  • Combination vaccines are used to reduce the number of shots, especially in children.

  • Killed/inactivated infectious agents or part of them were the only vaccines used for most of the twentieth century.

  • Polysaccharide conjugation, recombinant DNA techniques and, more recently, reverse vaccinology have led the development of new generation vaccines.

  • Therapeutic vaccines will be used to fight chronic infectious diseases, cancers, neurodegenerative diseases, allergies and autoimmune diseases.

  • New delivery systems and new adjuvants will be developed to increment vaccineÔÇÉinduced immune response against many infectious agents.

Keywords: vaccines; infectious diseases; therapeutic vaccines; meningococcus

Figure 1.

Comparison between the conventional vaccinology and the reverse vaccinology approaches.



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Further Reading

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Rappuoli, Rino, and Chiarot, Emiliano(Dec 2011) Vaccination of Humans. In: eLS. John Wiley & Sons Ltd, Chichester. [doi: 10.1002/9780470015902.a0000961.pub3]