Immune memory after smallpox vaccination persists for at least 50 years in immunized individuals, according to research conducted by scientists at the Emory Vaccine Center and Emory University School of Medicine. This is good news, since the findings, published in the Nov. 15 issue of the Journal of Immunology, suggest that individuals vaccinated against smallpox prior to the end of the smallpox vaccination program in 1972 may still retain at least some protection against smallpox.
Rafi Ahmed, PhD, Georgia Research Alliance Eminent Scholar and director of the Emory Vaccine Center, was principal investigator of the research study, and Shane Crotty, PhD, formerly at Emory University School of Medicine and currently a faculty member at The La Jolla Institute for Allergy and Immunology, was first author. Other members of the research team included Emory microbiologist John Glidewell, Phil Felgner, and Luis Villarreal of the University of California, Irvine, and Huw Davies of Kings College London.
Although scientists have known that acute viral infections and vaccines produce two types of long-term immune memory that provide protection against disease, they are still learning the details of these immune mechanisms.
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Many pathogens use certain sugar compounds from their host to help conceal themselves against the immune system. Scientists at the University of Bonn have now, in cooperation with researchers at the University of York in the United Kingdom, analyzed the dynamics of a bacterial molecule that is involved in this process. They demonstrate that the protein grabs onto the sugar molecule with a Pac Man-like chewing motion and holds it until it can be used. Their results could help design therapeutics that could make the protein poorer at grabbing and holding and hence compromise the pathogen in the host. The study has now been published in “Biophysical Journal”.
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