Vaccine Manufacturers Begin Production of 2012-2013 Flu Vaccine

Posted: September 27th, 2012 | Author: | Filed under: Passport Health Sarasota-Bradenton Announcements | Tags: , , | Comments Off on Vaccine Manufacturers Begin Production of 2012-2013 Flu Vaccine

The FDA green-lighted influenza vaccines from all 6 vaccine manufacturers licensed to produce and distribute in theU.S., making way for the 2012-2013 flu season.

The products from the big 6–CSL, GlaxoSmithKline ($GSK), ID Biomedical, AstraZeneca’s ($AZN) MedImmune, Novartis ($NVS) and Sanofi Pasteur–will include strains for A/California/7/2009 (H1N1)-like virus, A/Victoria/361/2011 (H3N2)-like virus and B/Wisconsin/1/2010-like virus. The H1N1 virus matches what manufacturers included during the last season, but the H3N2 and B viruses differ.

Sometimes the virus strains predicted to circulate and those that actually make the rounds don’t line up. But even if the vaccines and circulating strains aren’t identical, the vaccines can reduce the severity of the illness or help prevent influenza-related complications, according to an FDA release.

“The best way to prevent influenza is by getting vaccinated each year,” said Karen Midthun, director of the FDA’s Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research. “It is especially important to get vaccinated this year because two of the three virus strains used in this season’s influenza vaccines differ from the strains included in last year’s vaccines.”

Seasonal influenza kills more than 36,000 people and hospitalizes 200,000 more each year in the United States, according to National Institutes of Health’s National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.

CDC Prepares New Vaccine in Response to New Strain of Swine Flu

Posted: September 25th, 2012 | Author: | Filed under: Passport Health Sarasota-Bradenton Announcements | Tags: , , , | Comments Off on CDC Prepares New Vaccine in Response to New Strain of Swine Flu

The U.S.Centers for Disease Control isn’t taking any chances when it comes to swine flu. A new strain of the flu–H3N2–includes an element seen in the H1N1 swine flu pandemic of 2009, so the CDC is preparing a candidate vaccine and clinical trials for later this year.

Doctors have identified 29 human cases of the new strain in the past two years, with all such cases containing the matrix (m) gene found in the H1N1 pandemic virus. “This ‘m’ gene may confer increased transmissibility to and among humans, compared with other variant influenzas viruses,” said Joseph Bresee, from the CDC’s influenza division, as quoted by HealthDay. Part of the concern comes from the rate of infection; of the 29 cases reported, 16 occurred in the past three weeks, Bresee said.

Person-to-person transmission of the disease has yet to take place, which should ease some concerns at this time. In the reported cases, the individuals had close contact with animals carrying the virus, including time spent at a fair. But the CDC takes comfort in preparation.

“Because influenza viruses are always evolving, we will watch closely for signs that the virus has gained capacity for efficient and sustained human-to-human transmission,” Bresee said. “Thus far, we have not seen this type of transmission and therefore are not seeing features consistent with an influenza pandemic.”

Breakthrough in the Search for a Malaria Vaccine

Posted: September 20th, 2012 | Author: | Filed under: Passport Health Sarasota-Bradenton Announcements | Tags: , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Breakthrough in the Search for a Malaria Vaccine

Researchers atAustralia’s Burnet Institute discovered a prime target in the immune system’s battle against malaria, marking a turning point in the search for a vaccine.

Malaria distribution map. Most countries with ...

Malaria distribution map. Most countries with a high distribution of malaria also have a high distribution of parasitic worm infections. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Studies show people immune to the disease develop antibodies that home in on a protein known as PfEMP1, produced by Plasmodium falciparum, the organism behind most cases of malaria, according to Medical Xpress. The findings prove valuable in determining for which malaria proteins–known as variant surface antigens–a vaccine should aim. The study also showed that when the immune system takes action against other proteins produced by malaria, it does not effectively protect the body, further underscoring the need for a vaccine to seek out the appropriate target.

“The new findings support the idea that a vaccine could be developed that stimulates the immune system so that it specifically mounts a strong response (or attack) against the PfEMP1 protein that malaria produces,” James Beeson, senior author of the study, tells Medical Xpress.

More than 40% of the world’s population live in areas where there is a risk of contracting the mosquito-borne illness, which will make developing a vaccine both profitable to the manufacturer and beneficial to world health. Nearly 1 million individuals die of malaria each year, according to the NIH.

CDC Maps World-Wide Health Risks

Posted: September 19th, 2012 | Author: | Filed under: Travel Health Alerts | Tags: , , | Comments Off on CDC Maps World-Wide Health Risks

Finally! A Vaccine for Allergy Relief

Posted: September 18th, 2012 | Author: | Filed under: Passport Health Sarasota-Bradenton Announcements | Tags: , , , , | Comments Off on Finally! A Vaccine for Allergy Relief

Allergy Therapeutics will court a partner to market its Pollinex Quattro Grass vaccine now that the FDA lifted a clinical hold on the grass pollen allergy shot.

The company can move forward with a Phase III efficacy study, which will take place in an environmental exposure chamber, according to a release. The vaccine–commercialized in some European countries–comes as a four-shot series, requiring the injections over the course of a year.

Vaccines research at the NVGH

Vaccines research at the NVGH (Photo credit: Novartis AG)

The FDA froze the vaccine in 2007, after a volunteer experienced numbness and weakness during a trial. Allergy Therapeutics’ stock tumbled 22% at the time, according to FierceBiotech. But the U.K.-based company’s shares jumped almost 30% after the FDA lifted the hold.

“This product has the potential to greatly benefit allergy sufferers in the U.S.in the absence of registered products by being the first subcutaneous immunotherapy vaccine to reach the U.S.market,” said CEO Manuel Llobet. “Additionally, lifting the hold will allow for discussions with potential partners with whom we will finalize the clinical development and start the commercialization of Pollinex Quattro in a market estimated to be around $2 billion.”

Client Story: Healthy Travels in Chennai

Posted: September 17th, 2012 | Author: | Filed under: Passport Health Sarasota-Bradenton Announcements | Tags: , , , , | Comments Off on Client Story: Healthy Travels in Chennai

I recently visited Passport Health in anticipation of a two-week trip to India.  The purpose of my trip was to improve upon the meditation that I practice here at home.  My main destination of interest was a large celebration at an ashram in Chennai.  A couple of weeks before leaving, the location of the celebration was changed.  At first I was worried about the sudden change of plans, but it ended up allowing me the opportunity to visit three different locations and have a very interesting and wonderful time.

My travels started with a series of flights stopping in New York, Brussels, and then finally in Chennai, India.  I then caught a domestic flight to Coimbatore, and a taxi ride from Coimbatoreto Tiruppur.  I was fairly tired after almost 35 hours of traveling, but I was immediately welcomed with a delicious lunch and a cup of chai tea as I arrived in Tiruppur.  There was already a large gathering of nearly 60,000 people from around India and the rest of the world.

Meditating at an Ashram

This is the interior of the main meditation tent.

The accommodations were just large tents shared with fellow travelers, but were completely comfortable and even cozy.  I also really looked forward to the three healthy, freshly cooked meals served each day.

This is a photo of my accommodations

My accommodations were nice, even cozy.

After three days of relaxing meditations and inspiring lectures, I had the fortunate opportunity to spend some time at a mountain retreat center located in the jungles of Kerala.  It is one of the most beautiful places I have ever seen.  It was also a perfectly tranquil atmosphere that allowed for plenty of introspecting, relaxing, and recharging.

The Mountain Retreat

The Mountain Retreat was the perfect place to relax and recharge

It was easy to make new friends at the retreat center, and we traveled together to the ashram in Chennai, where I spent my last two days in India.  I didn’t do very much traditional tourism while in India, but I did get to spend a few hours traveling to markets in the city center.  We traveled via an open, motorized rickshaw in heavy traffic, which was a bit of an adventure.  After returning to the ashram, I enjoyed some great conversations with people from around the world.  While everyone had different experiences and perspectives in their lives, there is a definite bond and camaraderie in a place like the ashram.  Overall it was a pretty amazing journey, and I would encourage anyone who is at all interested to pursue a similar experience for themselves.

Ashram in Chennai

A statue in the Ashram in Chennai


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Vaccine Company Fights Antitrust Allegations

Posted: September 13th, 2012 | Author: | Filed under: Passport Health Sarasota-Bradenton Announcements | Tags: , , , , , | Comments Off on Vaccine Company Fights Antitrust Allegations

Sanofi Pasteur may find itself in the thick of an antitrust case after a judge ruled that a lawsuit alleging that the company illegally monopolized the market for meningococcal vaccines in theU.S. can move forward.


Sanofi (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

In December, several doctors said the company created a “web of noncompetitive contracts” with physician buying groups that blocked competition in an effort to sell its vaccine MenactraPharmalot reports. Using its market authority, Sanofi grouped price contracts, forcing purchasers to buy 90% or more of childhood vaccines to avoid potential cost penalties on Menactra, according to the news service. So, in theory, a buyer could end up paying 15% to 35% more for all Sanofi vaccines if they elect not to buy Menactra. The doctors surmise Sanofi’s idea here was to promote its Menactra vaccine after Novartis ($NVS) joined the game with rival Menveo.

Furthermore, the lawsuit says the doctors were told, under contract, not to purchase vaccines from other makers–such as GlaxoSmithKline ($GSK) and Novartis–or they would face penalties.

A Sanofi Pasteur spokesman wrote to Pharmalot, “naturally we are disappointed in the judge’s ruling, but we are confident that once the court sees the evidence of competition in the marketplace, it will rule against the plaintiffs. We continue to defend our company and our product, and we maintain that allegations in the class action complaint are without merit.”

Tuberculosis Vaccine May be Used to Cure Diabetes

Posted: September 11th, 2012 | Author: | Filed under: Passport Health Sarasota-Bradenton Announcements | Tags: , , , , , , | Comments Off on Tuberculosis Vaccine May be Used to Cure Diabetes

A tuberculosis vaccine may help reverse Type 1 diabetes, a disease for which there is no cure. Harvard University researchers are raising money to conduct human studies using the 90-year-old vaccine bacillus Calmette-Guérin, also known as BCG, to help produce a protein that kills insulin-attacking cells, Bloomberg reports.

Three million Americans suffering from Type 1 diabetes use insulin injections to control the illness. In the study with the BCG vaccine, researchers administered two doses to three patients with Type 1 diabetes and found signs of increased insulin production after 20 weeks in two of the patients. A rise in C-peptide levels suggested the production of insulin, Bloomberg reported.

“These patients have been told their pancreases were dead,” Denise Faustman, director of Harvard-affiliatedMassachusetts GeneralHospital’s immunobiology laboratory, told Bloomberg. “We can take those people, give them a very low dose twice and see their pancreases kick in and start to make small amounts of insulin.”

Faustman and her colleagues are now trying to raise the $25 million necessary to conduct larger human trials. In an effort to bring the vaccine to market, she found every major drugmaker expressed no interest in using an inexpensive, generic drug as a cure for diabetes because there was not enough money to be made, according to Bloomberg. All money for the study is coming from private donors.

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