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Archive for the ‘Therapy’ Category

Vaccine Heroes

Louis Pasteur in his laboratory,1885
Louis Pasteur, the inventor of four vaccines, in his laboratory, 1885


The COVID-19 pandemic has been an eye-opener regarding the detrimental impact of microbial species on the human body. Vaccines act as vital tools for developing immunity against various infectious organisms through the recognition of targeted pathogens by the immune system. (Find more information on the mechanism of action of multiple types of vaccines here).

The initial development of vaccines resulted from the tireless efforts of many prestigious researchers who selflessly pursued the prevention of infectious diseases. Here is a brief sneak peek into the contributions of a few of these scientists whose invaluable efforts have saved millions of lives.


Portrait of vaccine hero Louis Pasteur

Louis Pasteur

In the 1880s, Louis Pasteur developed vaccines for four potentially fatal infections, including Chicken Cholera, Anthrax, Swine Erysipelas, and Rabies. He was the first to introduce the use of live attenuated pathogens to develop immunity against the causative organisms (1). The vaccine for Chicken Cholera (Pasteurella multocida) was the first to be developed in a laboratory. Pasteur received several medals and honors, including the Leeuwenhoek Medal from the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences for his contributions to microbiology in 1895 (2).


Rabies cases and rates worldwide, 1990 – 2015

Rabies cases and rates worldwide, 1990 - 2015



Waldemar Mordecai Wolffe Haffkine

Waldemar Mordecai Wolffe Haffkine

Waldemar Haffkine developed the first vaccines for Cholera and Plague, in the 1890s (3). Haffkine tested these inoculations on himself before initiating mass human trials. He conducted most of his studies in India, a hub of Cholera and Plague, and his monumental work saved the lives of millions of people.


Plague cases and rates 1948 – 2018

Plague cases and rates 1948 - 2018


Jesse William Lazear, 1866 - 1900

Jesse William Lazear

Dr. Jesse Lazear was an American physician who played a critical role in understanding the transmission of Yellow fever, a life-threatening viral infection (4). It was later revealed that he “allowed himself to be bitten by mosquitoes that had fed on the blood of patients with yellow fever,” which eventually led to his demise. His sacrifice was crucial in establishing the relationship between mosquitoes and Yellow fever, which later formed the basis of the development of key preventative strategies.


Max Theiler

Max Theiler

Max Theiler received the Nobel Prize in Medicine or Physiology “for his discoveries concerning Yellow fever and how to combat it” in 1951 (5). He pioneered the work on the development of a safe, standardized vaccine for the disease. In his studies, he used mice instead of rhesus monkeys, which were considered to be the main reservoir of the infection. Following this, mice continued to serve as standard tools for the study of zoonotic diseases by future researchers (6).


Yellow fever cases and rates worldwide, 1950 – 2016

Yellow fever cases and rates



Pearl Kendrick (left) and Grace Eldering. Photo credit: Michigan Women’s Hall of Fame
Pearl Kendrick (left) and Grace Eldering. Photo credit: Michigan Women’s Hall of Fame

Grace Eldering & Pearl Kendrick

Both scientists conducted in-depth studies on Pertussis (whooping cough), which then became the basis of the development of a vaccine (7). Interestingly, both Grace Eldering and Pearl Kendrick suffered from whooping cough in their childhood, which was said to be the motivation behind their work. They were also involved in combining the Pertussis vaccine with those of Diphtheria and Tetanus to produce the DPT vaccine.


Pertussis cases and rates worldwide, 1980 – 2018

Pertussis worldwide 1980 - 2018


Portrait of John Franklin Enders

John Franklin Enders

John Franklin Enders is referred to as “The Father of Modern Vaccines.” In 1954, he, along with Thomas H. Weller and Frederick C. Robbins, received the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for the successful in-vitro culture of the Poliomyelitis viruses (poliovirus) (8). Subsequently, Enders and his colleagues worked on developing a vaccine against the Measles virus, resulting in the availability of a live attenuated Measles virus vaccine and a deactivated Measles virus vaccine – marketed by Merck & Co. and Pfizer, respectively (9).


Measles cases and rates worldwide, 1980 – 2019

Measles worldwide cases and rates



The names mentioned above are just a few of the many scientists whose dedication, hard work, and intellect helped develop safe and effective vaccines, providing immeasurable contributions to our healthcare system.


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  1. FLEMING A. Louis Pasteur. Br Med J. 1947 Apr 19;1(4502):517-22. doi: 10.1136/bmj.1.4502.517.
  2. “Leeuwenhoek Medal”, Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences [Online]. Available.
  3.     Hawgood BJ. Waldemar Mordecai Haffkine, CIE (1860-1930): prophylactic vaccination against Cholera and bubonic Plague in British India. J Med Biogr. 2007 Feb;15(1):9-19. doi: 10.1258/j.jmb.2007.05-59.
  4.     Reed W, Carroll J, Agramonte A, Lazear JW. Classics in infectious diseases. The etiology of yellow fever: a preliminary note. Walter Reed, James Carroll, A. Agramonte, and Jesse W. Lazear, Surgeons, U.S. Army. The Philadelphia Medical Journal 1900. Rev Infect Dis. 1983 Nov-Dec;5(6):1103-11.
  5.     “Max Theiler Biographical”, The Nobel Prize [Online]. Available
  6.     Norrby E. Yellow fever and Max Theiler: the only Nobel Prize for a virus vaccine. J Exp Med. 2007 Nov 26;204(12):2779-84. doi: 10.1084/jem.20072290.
  7.     Shapiro-Shapin CG. Pearl Kendrick, Grace Eldering, and the pertussis vaccine. Emerg Infect Dis. 2010 Aug;16(8):1273-8. doi: 10.3201/eid1608.100288.
  8.     “John F. Enders Biographical”, The Nobel Prize [Online]. Available
  9.     Katz SL. John F. Enders and measles virus vaccine–a reminiscence. Curr Top Microbiol Immunol. 2009; 329:3-11. doi: 10.1007/978-3-540-70523-9_1.

How many diseases are preventable by vaccines?

Illustration of vaccine destroying the COVID-19 virus, making the disease preventable by vaccine


The power of vaccines cannot be underestimated. Take, for example, Poliomyelitis, which was a significant problem 70 years ago  – and is now close to becoming a disease of the past. Not that long ago, smallpox was completely eradicated through the use of a vaccine. 

As the world celebrates the imminent arrival of several COVID-19 vaccines, we might ask how many diseases are preventable by vaccines as of 2020.

Which diseases haven’t got a vaccine yet?

Of the 361 generic infectious diseases that affect humans, only 62 (17%) are preventable by vaccines. Over 100 of the remainder are caused by fungi and parasites – from malaria to scabies, and from ringworm to candidiasis. The process of developing vaccines against these kinds of pathogens is more complicated than working with viruses or bacteria, but scientists are making good progress.

Hope on the horizon

Other notable diseases awaiting vaccines are caused by viruses, such as HIV, Chikungunya, Norovirus, and Zika virus, and bacteria – syphilis, leprosy, and bacillary dysentery. These diseases affect many millions of people each year, incurring significant treatment and care costs for those affected and for society as a whole.

The good news is – most of these diseases already have vaccines in development. Preventing any one of the mentioned diseases would be a huge success and help ease the global strain on healthcare professionals, supplies, and equipment.

The burden of proof and regulation of vaccines can take years of evidential trials, funding allocation, and medical board approval (FDA in the United States), which make progress appear painfully slow. But these processes are necessary to ensure what putting into our bodies is safe and effective.

We remain grateful for the hard work of scientists in developing vaccines to keep us safe.


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Antigen vs antibody – what is the difference?

Antigen vs antibody - 3D illustration
3D illustration of antigen in the human body


What is the difference between antigen vs antibody, and what role do they play in creating an effective vaccine? With the recent focus on the development of a COVID-19 vaccine there has been much talk of antigens and antibodies, often interchangeably, and little clarity on what they are – or the role they play in creating an effective vaccine. In this blog, we’ll cut through the jargon and discover the facts together.


An antigen is any substance or organism that is unrecognized by our immune system. It could be anything from bacteria to chemicals, to viruses … or even foods [1]. Antigens typically trigger an immune response, which may consist of an antibody (more on that later), and are classified by their origins [2]:

  • Exogenous: entering from outside the body
  • Endogenous: generated from within
  • Autoantigens: proteins targeted in autoimmune diseases
  • Neoantigens (or tumor antigens): resulting from tumor cells.
  • Native antigens: An antigen which will later be processed by an antigen-presenting cell

In some cases, these main types have subtypes – but we won’t get into an immunology lecture today. An antigen-presenting cell is a cell that processes and then presents the antigen to T-cells (a form of white blood cells), which can then ‘handle’ the antigen, often by killing the offending cell [3].

Your immune system has “memory” which allows the system to deal with the offending antigen much more quickly and efficiently the next time it is encountered.  Vaccines are designed to simulate that first encounter with an antigen and create a robust memory in case the offending agent reappears in the future. [4].

The importance of vaccines is covered in more detail here, but in short, antigens themselves are crucial in the development of vaccines. Generally, the vaccine consists of a potentially hostile antigen, in a very weak or inactive form.


Antibodies are proteins that bind with the antigen in order to neutralize the latter – or make other elements of the immune system “aware” of their presence.  Antibody-producing cells are specifically designed to tackle one type of antigen; and your blood, bone marrow, lymph glands, and spleen will contain millions of them to ensure that every known antigen will be confronted by a corresponding antibody  [5].

Antibodies are secreted by B leukocytes (a form of white blood cell) and circulate in blood plasma either freely or attached to the surface of a B cell.  The B and T cells work in unison to identify and locate antigens, create the correct antibodies, and capture (kill/neutralize) the antigen [6].

A vaccine, by exposing the immune system to a new antigen, will “teach” antibodies the correct format in which to capture or tag that antigen.  When the actual disease antigen later enters the body, the immune system will rapidly respond with minimal discomfort and inconvenience.

Effective vaccination needs both

To summarize – an antigen is a disease agent (virus, toxin, bacterium parasite, fungus, chemical, etc) that the body needs to remove, and an antibody is a protein that binds to the antigen to allow our immune system to identify and deal with it.

Woman with adhesive bandage on her shoulder
Antigens and antibodies work in tandem when vaccinating


Don’t take this all for granted, though. As impressive as our immune system is, it’s far from perfect and needs our assistance to prevent harmful antigens from entering the body – through hand washing, face masks, and social distancing. Look after your body and it will look after you!

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Want to learn more about vaccines? We’ve got a great ebook for you – GIDEON Guide to Vaccines and Globulin Preparations


[1] M. Encyclopedia, “Antigen: MedlinePlus Medical Encyclopedia”,, 2020. [Online]. Available:

[2] “Antigens | Boundless Anatomy and Physiology”, [Online]. Available: 

[3] T. Kambayashi and T. Laufer, “Atypical MHC class II-expressing antigen-presenting cells: can anything replace a dendritic cell?”, Nature Reviews Immunology, vol. 14, no. 11, pp. 719-730, 2014. Available: 10.1038/nri3754 

[4] A. Abbas, A. Lichtman and S. Pillai, Cellular and molecular immunology, 9th ed. Philadelphia: Elsevier, 2018, p. 97.

[5] C. Janeway, Immunobiology 5: the immune system in health and disease, 5th ed. Garland Publishing.

[6] L. Borghesi and C. Milcarek, “From B Cell to Plasma Cell: Regulation of V(D)J Recombination and Antibody Secretion”, Immunologic Research, vol. 36, no. 1-3, pp. 27-32, 2006. Available: 10.1385/ir:36:1:27

Reference links in Drugs and Vaccines

Reference links have arrived to the GIDEON Therapy related modules: Drugs and Vaccines.

Every drug and vaccine includes relevant clickable reference numbers that link to relevant source abstracts in peer-reviewed journals.


For example:

2014 series of GIDEON eBooks

The 2014 GIDEON ebook series has been released.

This edition incorporates all content added since publication of the last series. Country-series eBooks now include the vaccination schedules for every reporting country as an extra chapter.
Additionally, four new volumes have been added to the series.

Titles now include:

Country series (231 volumes)
Disease series (188 volumes)
GIDEON Guide to Antimicrobial Agents
GIDEON Guide to Vaccines
GIDEON Guide to Medically Important Bacteria
GIDEON Guide to Medically Important Yeasts

The four newer titles incorporate content from GIDEON’s Drugs, Vaccines, Bacteria, Mycobacteria and Yeasts modules. These and all other eBooks in the series are updated annually

These ebooks are available on the GIDEON eBooks website as well as through distributors such as EBSCO and Ingram.

Compare diseases, drugs or pathogens

One of the most important functions of GIDEON is to help users prepare scientific articles, teaching material and other publications (see the Fingerprint case of the month). A new feature now allows users to create custom-designed charts which compare the features of two or more diseases, drugs or pathogens.

For comparison of key clinical and epidemiological features of infectious diseases, in the Diseases tab, click on a disease (step 1 in the image below), and – while holding down the control button – click on other diseases of your choice. Now click on the Compare button (step 2).

Choosing diseases to compare
Choosing diseases to compare


Linking between modules

We’re continuing our progress in making it easier to find the information you’re looking for in GIDEON with minimal effort. We have added a new feature in the Microbiology module that link relevant organisms to their drug susceptibility and appropriate vaccines as demonstrated by the highlighted links in this screen shot of the Vibrio Cholerae general tab:
Microbiology Vibrio Cholerae information
These new links are in addition to links added in the past connecting between disease organisms to microbiology and typical therapy to drugs, vaccines and pathogens.
For example see the links from the Anthrax disease general information tab screen shot below, to the Microbiology organism (Bacillus anthracis), Therapy (eg: Ciprofloxacin) and Anthrax vaccine:
Anthrax general disease information

Text search enhanced with case and video

You can search for keywords in GIDEON using the text search feature. Searches case of the month provides some examples, available as a video as well.
Search box

Text search launches

GIDEON has always emphasized ease of use by allowing complete usage without any need for a keyboard by only using a mouse. Today we broke our rule to enable text search through GIDEON. As search has become more popular, it has become the user experience many people feel comfortable with when using the web.

Search will initially display results from our Epidemiology and Therapy modules and will extend to all content in GIDEON, including Diagnosis. See how easy it is to search with GIDEON.