By Janet Fang
Posting in Design
A new model of the immature immune system promises to boost the development of vaccines specifically for newborn babies, which are lacking. This'll help test vaccines before trialing them in babies.
Around 1 million newborns die a year from preventable diseases, and since many of these babies won't be seen by health professionals again, the best way to protect them would be to vaccinate at birth. New Scientist reports.
A lot of infections happen early in life. However, very few vaccines are designed specifically for newborn – most are developed for adults and adapted for younger people. A baby’s immune system tends to mount a weaker response to foreign agents in the body, and immunity from an adult vaccine wanes just months afterwards.
So, Guzman Sanchez-Schmitz of Harvard Medical School and colleagues created a new way of modeling the newborn immune system. It’s also the first artificial immune system to consist entirely of human components.
- They took blood from human umbilical veins and used it to culture 2 types of cells: those that make up blood vessel walls and white blood cells (which are all key in immune responses).
- They grew these cells in the collagen matrix that forms the physical and biochemical support system in the body.
- The system is topped off with newborn plasma (the liquid part of blood).
Like a real newborn’s immune system, the white blood cells passed through blood vessel wall cells and transformed into dendritic cells – which recognize foreign material and flag it for other immune cells – just as they would when they come across a pathogen in the body.
In an experiment, the team found that the model responded to the BCG vaccine for tuberculosis in the same way that newborns have in clinical trials.
Their model provides a reliable way to test vaccines before trialing them in newborns. "The aim is to do a clinical trial in a test tube," says study researcher Ofer Levy also of Harvard.
The work was presented at the American Association of Immunologists' annual meeting in Boston earlier this month.
[Via New Scientist]
Image by Michael Melchiorre via Flickr
May 24, 2012
Just when I thought that childhood immunization could not be more insane and dangerous, it is now headed completely over the top. "Artificial immune systems?" Are you serious? You are just going to replace a "real newborn's immune system" with an artificial one. What does that make? A fake newborn? A fake immune system? Has anyone even considered that perhaps we should reign in the corporate stranglehold on the earth, to keep them from inundating every system of nature with artificial agents and poison, so that we can simply use our own immune systems? No, apparently it is easier to strip away our human nature and replace it with an artificial mechanism.
Perhaps the article was misread by the above commenter- to clarify-the research group's aim in not to make newborn immune systems artificial...the research group developed a new model system to study vaccination on newborns. This may eliminate the need for animal models to study vaccinations on newborns and is a positive research finding. The artificial model system is for studying- it mimics/models the same type of immune responses that go on in newborns- the artificial model is not implanted in newborns...
Perhaps I did, and if so I stand corrected. However the reason for the nature of my comment is my concern that with all the vaccines pumped into children BEFORE they ever get a chance to develop any sort of semblance of a natural immune system already constitutes the initiation of an artificial immune system of sorts anyway. I just thought it was a little brazen to talk about it that way. I will not decry vaccine study, but I will condemn the excessive and most times futile and dangerous way that it is administered. Clearly we have to do something about the drive of the corporate bottom line over the health of our children.