New HIV Vaccine Proves Successful in Phase 1 Human Trial

original article found at:

A vaccine for human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) has proved successful in a Phase 1 clinical trial with no adverse effects in human patients, Sumagen Canada Inc. and Western University of Ontario announced today. The vaccine, which was developed by Dr. Chil-Yong Kang and his team, is the first genetically modified, whole-killed vaccine to be approved for testing in humans.

“We are now prepared to take the next steps towards Phase 2 and Phase 3 clinical trials,” stated Jung-Gee Cho, the CEO of Sumagen Co. Ltd., in a press release. “We are opening the gate to pharmaceutical companies, government, and charity organization for collaboration to be one step closer to the first commercialized HIV vaccine.”

Human Testinghiv-curt
The clinical trial, which evaluated safety, tolerability, and immune responses, was initiated in March 2012 and completed in August 2013. The study of the vaccine, known as SAV001-H, followed intramuscular administration in HIV-infected, asymptomatic men and women, 18 to 50 years of age. The trial studied the vaccine’s effects on volunteers as compared to a placebo group.

After receiving the vaccination, volunteers visited test sites on weeks four, six, 12, 18, 26, and 52 for a general physical examination as well as analysis of clinical chemistry, hematology, and urinalysis. Researchers observed no serious adverse events and also found a surprising boost in antibody production, which may forecast success in Phase 2 trials measuring immune response.

The antibody against p24 capsid antigen increased as much as 64-fold in some vaccinees while the antibody against gp120 surface antigen increased up to eight-fold. P24 is a structural protein that makes up most of the HIV viral core also known as the ‘capsid.’ High levels of p24 are present in the blood serum of newly infected individuals during the short period between infection and seroconversion, making p24 antigen assays useful in diagnosing primary HIV infection. A glycoprotein, gp120, is necessary for attachment to cell surface receptors and also allows for the HIV virus to enter cells.

The increased antibody titers were maintained during the 52-week study period.

SAV001-H, which was produced at a manufacturing facility in the U.S., is the only HIV vaccine developed in Canada and one of only a few in the world. Sumagen anticipates having the first HIV vaccine approved for market. HIV currently affects more than 34 million people who live with the virus worldwide, according to the World Health Organization. Over the past three decades, HIV has claimed more than 25 million lives.

Since the virus was characterized in 1983, pharmaceutical companies and academic institutions around the world have attempted, yet consistently failed, to develop a vaccine. What is unique about Kang’s vaccine is its use of a killed-whole HIV-1, which is similar to the vaccines developed for polio, influenza, and rabies. HIV-1 is also genetically engineered; this raises its safety profile and the possibility of it being produced in large quantities.

Sumagen is a member of Curo Group, a Seoul-based company with subsidiaries or affiliates in financial services, information technology, and other business areas. Sumagen has secured patents for the SAV001 vaccine in more than 70 countries, including the U.S., the European Union, China, India, and South Korea.

Development of Sumagen’s HIV vaccine has been supported by the government of Canada as well as the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

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Global Health to the BC Student

A huge factor that influenced me to attend Boston College was its dedication to social justice and the student body’s motivation to understand the root causes of social justice issues. The speaker at my information session even gave a little speech about the importance of social justice in our lives as college students! And now upon attending BC, I realize that the strive to achieve social justice through volunteer work and fundraising is actually competitive. Students at Boston College strive to achieve this Jesuit ideal, one that is devoted to examining how equality and justice is spread among various social classes.
The “root causes” of social justice issues are based around a lot of aspects, such as education and government; however, one aspect that is especially important to me as a nursing student, and GlobeMed at BC, is global health. Health simply is a basic human right, yet people in poverty are deprived of it on a daily basis. Many die from easily preventable and treatable diseases. The World Health Organization states that with the spread of awareness and action taken already, social and economic conditions in developing countries are improving, influencing their health and surveillance systems. However, citizens are still highly at risk for non-communicable diseases– chronic diseases like cancer, respiratory diseases, cardiovascular diseases, etc. Education of these health issues, in addition to continuing the improvement of dealing with infectious disease, is imperative.
We, as students of Boston College, are fortunate to have access to health care and an education so we know how to prevent diseases and infections. It should therefore be are responsibility to help those who are not as fortunate. GlobeMed focuses on the root of health causes in order to build a foundation on medical care, nutritious food, sanitary water, and health. One simple way you can begin to help achieve equality for health is by supporting GlobeMed!

Other ways to help achieve Global health equity:

–Volunteer at a hospital nearby!

–Look into the Medical Humanities minor at BC

–Educate yourself. Browse the GlobeMed website and read articles from their “reading list” on link below

After Bringing Cholera to Haiti, U.N. Plans to Get Rid Of It


January 12, 2013 5:34 AM


Men bathe in a branch of the Artibonite River outside Saint-Marc. Haiti's cholera outbreak in 2010 began about 60 miles upstream from here.

Men bathe in a branch of the Artibonite River outside Saint-Marc. Haiti’s cholera outbreak in 2010 began about 60 miles upstream from here.

John W. Poole/NPR

Not quite 10 months after Haiti’s devastating 2010 earthquake, a more insidious disaster struck: cholera.

Haiti hadn’t seen cholera for at least a century. Then suddenly, the first cases appeared in the central highlands near a camp for United Nations peacekeeping forces.

Since then the disease has struck 1 out of every 16 Haitians — nearly 640,000 people. It has killed 8,000.

The disease struck with explosive force. Within two days of the first cases, a hospital 60 miles away was admitting a new cholera patient every 3 1/2 minutes.

“Part of the reason we think the outbreak grew so quickly was the Haitian population had no immunity to cholera,” says Daniele Lantagne, an environmental engineer at Tufts University. “Something like when the Europeans brought smallpox to the Americas, and it burned through the native populations.”

Haitians protest against the United Nations peacekeepers in Port-au-Prince in November 2010.

Hector Retamal/AFP/Getty Images


Lantagne says comparison of the Haitian cholera strain with one circulating in Nepal around the same time shows the two differed in only 1 out of 4 million genetic elements.

“That’s considered an exact match, that they’re the same strain of cholera,” she tells Shots.

Most scientists now think Nepalese soldiers unwittingly brought cholera to Haiti when they joined a U.N. peacekeeping force there in 2010. The outbreak started just downstream from their camp. Sewage from the camp spilled into a nearby river.

Lantagne was one of four scientists appointed by the U.N. to look into the matter. Their report, issued in May 2011, implicated the U.N. camp as a likely origin, but it concluded that the outbreak was caused by “a confluence of circumstances.”

She tells Shots that the report would come out different today.

“If we had had the additional scientific evidence that’s available now, we definitely would have written the report in 2011 differently, to state the most likely source of introduction was someone associated with the peacekeeping camp,” Lantagne says.

That’s important because the U.N. insists that whatever way cholera got to Haiti, terrible sanitary conditions and lack of clean water were responsible for its remarkably fast spread.

But lawyer Brian Concannon doesn’t buy that.

“It’s like lighting a fire in a dry field on a windy day and then blaming the wind or the drought for the fire,” says Concannon, who directs a Boston-based group called the Institute for Justice and Democracy in Haiti.

More than a year ago, the group filed a legal claim against the U.N. demanding that it accept responsibility.

Concannon says the U.N. is supposed to set up a formal mechanism within the Status of Forces Agreements that govern every peacekeeping operation to deal with claims of harm — from traffic accidents and alleged rapes involving peacekeeping soldiers to larger allegations — but it has never done so.

Since the U.N. has not responded to its claim, Concannon’s group is pondering whether to sue the agency in a court in the United States, Europe or Haiti.

For its part, the U.N. hasn’t admitted anything. But in December, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon announced a plan to rid Haiti and the neighboring Dominican Republic of cholera.

Concannon says that’s ambitious — but feasible.

“Cholera can certainly be eliminated from Haiti,” he tells Shots. “It’s been eliminated from the United States, from England, from many countries in South America,” he says. “This is basically 19th century technology that needs to be installed in Haiti.”

The Haitian government is expected to release a detailed blueprint for the first two years of the effort sometime this month. The entire project is expected to cost $2.2 billion and take at least 10 years.

But so far, the U.N. has identified only 10 percent of the money, most of it redeployed from earlier pledges. Concannon worries the rest may never be found.

Jan. 9, 2013
Hurricane Sandy's tear across the Caribbean left at least 54 dead in Haiti, where many people still live in tents because of damage from the 2010 earthquake.

Dr. Jon Andrus acknowledges it’s getting harder to raise money for Haiti, as the earthquake fades into history. He’s the deputy director of the Pan American Health Organization, an arm of the U.N.

Paying for cholera elimination in Hispaniola is the challenge, Andrus tells Shots. “It’s a big challenge,” he says. “The question is: Can it be done? I believe it can. So we’re ramping up efforts to do that.”

But even if the money can be found, it’s going to take years to bring clean water and sewage treatment to a sizable proportion of Haiti’s 10 million people.

Meanwhile, Haitians will still get cholera and many more will die.

One stopgap under discussion is to vaccinate Haitians at highest risk of cholera, such as the 266,000 babies born every year, and those in remote areas who can’t get to clinics rapidly.

Andrus, who has a background in vaccination programs, thinks that’s a good idea.

“Haiti has done some great things with vaccination,” he says. “They’ve eliminated measles, rubella and polio, and you can’t say that in many countries in Europe. We believe they can do it.”

Cholera vaccination is 60 to 70 percent effective and lasts about two years. And of course, it also will take money.

If enough cholera vaccines become available, one recent study suggests that vaccinating around half the population would provide enough “herd immunity” to make cholera transmission much less likely.

But, so far, the U.N. says nothing has been decided about launching a cholera vaccination program of any sort in Haiti.


Story taken from: NPR’s official website.  Click here to read original article.


Tuberculosis: A Growing Problem

November 2011
Lima, Peru.

People who suffer from drug resistant tuberculosis often have no access to treatment. Outbreaks often afflict poor people who live in crowded, unhealthy conditions, like in slums or prisons.

Even patients who can get medications may face a terrible choice. Sometimes the side effects are so intense, patients give up the treatment.

Josue Gamarra is completing two years of treatment for drug resistant tuberculosis in Lima, Peru.

“Sometimes when I take the medications, I have problems seeing and my ears buzz. And sometimes my stomach gets upset and it gets ugly,” says Josue. “Sometimes when I go to take my pills, it takes me two hours just to swallow them. I’d look at the pills and just seeing them would give me nausea.”

Josue got involved with other TB patients through a local clinic. “I’ve seen a lot of cases where people abandon treatment, and it makes it even worse. They have to go to the hospital. Sometimes it’s too late to cure them and they die,” he says. “The doctors told me, two years on this treatment. I had to do it to get better, and to protect my family by not infecting them. That’s why I had to continue. I don’t want any one to get this disease. I wouldn’t wish it on anyone, not one single person.”

The treatment and side effects kept Josue from a regular work schedule for two years. Now that he’s recovered, he’s eager to get back to work.

“I started working in my neighbor’s bakery and later on I worked in cleaning, and as a gardener and as a waiter,” Josue says. “I’ve always liked to work.”

But finding employment after TB can be as daunting as the treatment.

Viviana Pauca works with “Socios en Salud,” a local healthcare group. “It’s true that health is the most important point, but after we treat these patients and they get better, how are we going to reintegrate them into society?” she asks. “Often the jobs they are applying for ask for medical checkups. Many patients have lost a lung, or have lung damage. It would be impossible for them to find work.”

“Socios en Salud” teaches recovered patients how to start a small business of their own.

Working with the international non-profit, “Partners in Health,” they help launch micro- enterprises.

“Patients can generate some sort of income, without having to ask others who might reject them,” Pauca says. “We teach people how to recognize a good idea, how to start a business, how to seek growth in a business and how to manage the business carefully so it doesn’t fail.”

Josue plans to buy clothes at central markets that are hard to reach from outlying areas. He’ll re-sell the clothes in local markets, saving his neighbors the cost and trouble of transportation.

His mentors have high hopes for Josue. “He’s a very enterprising person. He can help other people believe they can get better, move forward and come out ahead,” Pauca says. “He knows that TB can’t stop him and that there’s a lot to be done after recovering from TB.”

Supervisors say they’ve seen other patients earn enough money to move from make-shift homes into places with more space, more ventilation and light.

This lessens their chances of tuberculosis re-infection, and sets up their whole families for better physical and economic health.

photo taken from

article at:

Story of the Week: Meningitis Vaccine Provides Hope for Ghana

November 2012, World Health Organization


The teenage girls queuing up inside the Girls Senior High School in Tamale, the capital of the Northern Region of Ghana, fan away the hot air with their vaccination cards. Today’s immunization campaign is a welcome break from their school routine and the girls are the first in their country to receive the long-awaited meningitis A shots. Ghana is embarking on a programme to inoculate nearly 3 million people with a groundbreaking vaccine, MenAfriVac®, that has already significantly reduced the number of meningitis cases in other African countries.

Meningitis: serious and potentially fatal

A young boy is vaccinated on the market, Lawra District, Uppern Western Region, Ghana.

WHO/H. Dadjo

Meningitis is a serious and potentially fatal disease caused by bacteria, and a cause of widespread fear in Africa’s so-called meningitis belt – 26 countries stretching from Senegal in the west to Ethiopia in the east. Meningitis A mostly attacks infants, children, and young adults. Up to 500 million people are at risk from this infection that can cause severe brain damage and kills one out of ten patients – even if they receive effective antibiotics. Many suffer life-long disabilities including hearing loss, seizures and learning difficulties. In 2009, the seasonal outbreak of meningitis across a large swathe of sub-Saharan Africa infected at least 88 000 people and led to more than 5 000 deaths.

“In Ghana, the northern regions are particularly hit by meningitis A outbreaks,” explains Dr Idrissa Sow, the WHO representative in Ghana. “Our goal is to reduce the epidemics that regularly ravage these areas through mass immunization campaigns that particularly target people under 30 years old.”

MenAfriVac® vaccine

Poster for the nationwide vaccination campaign against meningitis A in Ghana.

WHO/H. Dadjo

MenAfriVac® is the first vaccine designed specifically for Africa. The aim is to eliminate meningococcal A epidemics in the meningitis belt. The vaccine was developed by the Meningitis Vaccine Project (MVP), a partnership between WHO and the international non-profit organization PATH. Funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and other donors, MVP collaborated closely with affected countries and research institutions around the world. The vaccine was developed in a record time of less than 10 years, for less than one-tenth the usual cost of developing a vaccine and getting it to market.

The vaccine is effective for young children as well as adults, and is manufactured by an Indian company that sells it at less than 50 cents a dose. Elsewhere in the world, meningitis vaccines cost US$ 100 per dose.

The GAVI Alliance has thus far contributed US$ 162 million to the effort to eliminate meningococcal A meningitis in Africa, and has committed to supporting its introduction across the remaining 15 or so nations.

“The vaccine has come at a good time. We are entering the hot season when meningitis cases in this region are known to peak,” says Dasana Abdullah Abdul-Karim, a community volunteer in Kanvilli, a suburb of Tamale. “We have lost so many children in the past because of this deadly disease but now, with this vaccine, we are sure our children will be protected.’’

Dramatic decline in meningitis infections since introduction of vaccine

Teenage girls waiting for their vaccination shot at a school, Ghana.

WHO/H. Dadjo

Burkina Faso, Mali and Niger introduced the new vaccine in December 2010 and have since witnessed a dramatic decline in meningitis infections. Burkina Faso, for example, has been suffering from repeated meningitis A epidemics for decades. In 2011, after the massive vaccination drive, new meningitis cases fell close to zero.

Ghana and six other countries in the region are now following suit. By the end of 2012 more than 100 million people will be vaccinated against meningitis A. It is hoped that, by 2016, all countries in the African meningitis belt will have introduced MenAfriVac®.