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FDA Working to Better Mumps, Whooping Cough Vaccines

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By    |   Thursday, 04 Aug 2016 02:45 PM

While it’s still better to be vaccinated than not, scientists are working on better vaccines to prevent mumps, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) says.

A vaccine is a medical product that stimulates a person’s immune system to protect against a specific disease. All vaccines currently approved by the FDA are safe and effective, the government says.

However, there is a need to make the vaccines used to protect Americans from mumps and whooping cough even more effective, the agency says.

Mumps is a serious disease that used to be common in the U.S., but has largely disappeared thanks to the U.S. vaccine program, which began in 1967, and has decreased cases by more than 99 percent, says Dr. Steven A. Rubin.

“Mumps was historically a disease of childhood, but outbreaks now typically involve young adults, particularly in high density, close contact environments such as on college and university campuses,” says Rubin, chief of the Laboratory of Method Development at the FDA’s Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research.

Today in the United States, children get two doses of a combination vaccine that contains a mumps component. “But our research indicates that by college age, levels of anti-mumps virus antibodies had declined substantially,” Rubin adds, which might leave people unprotected.

So, in collaboration with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Rubin and his team looked at the possibility to adding a third dose, but this did not prove effective. So they are now looking into other ways of improving the vaccine, such as optimizing the structure of the vaccine virus to trigger the production of longer-lasting, more robust antibodies, he says.

Regarding whooping cough, the FDA is concerned because the rates for this potentially serious disease, also called pertussis, have been rising over the past 20 years.

U.S. vaccines for this disease have a long history. The first “whole-cell” vaccines to protect pertussis became available in the U.S. in the 1940s and contained killed, but “whole” Bordetella pertussis bacteria, which cause the disease. But concern about side effects led to the development of a vaccine that contains only parts of the bacteria, instead of whole cells. The vaccine was approved in 1996.

But now scientists, who are studying the vaccine in baboons, have found that although the immunity may protect them from whooping cough symptoms, they may still be infected with the disease. So scientists are seeking ways to improve the vaccine, so it prevents both
infection and transmission, as well as symptoms, the FDA says.

 

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The government says that while vaccines against mumps and whooping cough are effective, they could be better.
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