I am a scientist specialized in mitochondria and genetics, but above all, I am just curious guy who loves learning new things.
Vaccinations are essential for public health… but they can be itchy business
In 10 seconds? Aluminium, a common adjuvant in vaccines, is necessary to stimulate and strengthen the immunological power of vaccination, but may cause unwanted side effects, like long-lasting itching and allergies in children.
What are adjuvants and why are they necessary? An adjuvant is an added ingredient in vaccines that helps to create a stronger immune response in the patient’s body, ensuring that patients will be protected against the germ targeted by the vaccine. Aluminium salts, such as aluminium hydroxide, have been commonly used as adjuvants for the past 70 years, and are present today in Infanrix® and Pentavac®, the two most commonly used DTP (Diphtheria, Tetanus, and Pertussis) vaccines in Europe.
If they have been used for over 70 years they must be safe, right? Similarly to medications, vaccines and their components may cause secondary effects, and recent studies seem to agree that although these effects are rare, they are significant. The most common side effects from aluminium adjuvants are itching granulomas and aluminium contact allergies, but more severe outcomes, such as autoimmune reactions and negative consequences on the central nervous system, have been reported, although these results are highly controversial.
If the most probable side effect is only an itch, then there is no need to worry. Well, did I mention that this itch lasts over 5 years? So, yes, these effects are mostly benign but definitely not the most enjoyable feeling a toddler could experience, without mentioning contact allergies to aluminium. But the biggest problem is that almost half of the families will refuse booster vaccinations if their child suffered from these side effects, leaving the child unprotected from infection.
Are there any alternatives? There are some possibilities under study, like dissolving microneedle patches, which provide improved immunogenicity and could eventually eliminate the need for conventional adjuvants by taking advantage of the rich network of immunologic antigen-presenting cells in the skin; or molecular adjuvants, like cytokines or inhibitors of immune suppressive pathways, with lower negative consequences.
Abstract: Over the last number of years, a significant body of evidence has shown the benefit of using dissolving microneedles (DMNs) for transdermal drug delivery. These devices are prepared from a wide range of materials such as sugars and polymers. DMNs are mainly fabricated by micromolding, photopolymerization, drawing lithography and droplet-airborne blowing. In this review, we have focused on the advances made in the field in recent years using a representative set of studies. Although the list of studies is not exhaustive, they highlight the challenges encountered such as the need to increase mechanical strength as well as medication dose while ensuring fast release of the active ingredient. DMNs can be used to delivery low molecular drugs as well as peptides, proteins and other high molecular weight compounds.
Pub.: 26 Jul '17, Pinned: 13 Sep '17
Abstract: A major advantage of DNA vaccination is the ability to induce both humoral and cellular immune responses. DNA vaccines are currently used in veterinary medicine, but have not achieved widespread acceptance for use in humans due to their low immunogenicity in early clinical studies. However, recent clinical data have re-established the value of DNA vaccines, particularly in priming high-level antigen-specific antibody responses. Several approaches have been investigated for improving DNA vaccine efficacy, including advancements in DNA vaccine vector design, the inclusion of genetically engineered cytokine adjuvants, and novel non-mechanical delivery methods. These strategies have shown promise, resulting in augmented adaptive immune responses in not only mice, but also in large animal models. Here, we review advancements in each of these areas that show promise for increasing the immunogenicity of DNA vaccines.
Pub.: 13 Jun '17, Pinned: 12 Sep '17
Abstract: Transdermal vaccination using a microneedle (MN) confers enhanced immunity compared with subcutaneous (SC) vaccination. Here we developed a novel dissolving MN patch for the influenza vaccine. The potencies of split virion and whole virus particle (WVP) vaccines prepared from A/Puerto Rico/8/1934 (H1N1) and A/duck/Hokkaido/Vac-3/2007 (H5N1), respectively, were evaluated. MN vaccination induced higher neutralizing antibody responses than SC vaccination in mice. Moreover, MN vaccination with a lower dose of antigens conferred protective immunity against lethal challenges of influenza viruses than SC vaccination in mice. These results suggest that the WVP vaccines administered using MN are an effective combination for influenza vaccine to be further validated in humans.
Pub.: 23 Apr '17, Pinned: 12 Sep '17
Abstract: Microneedle patches provide an alternative to conventional needle-and-syringe immunisation, and potentially offer improved immunogenicity, simplicity, cost-effectiveness, acceptability, and safety. We describe safety, immunogenicity, and acceptability of the first-in-man study on single, dissolvable microneedle patch vaccination against influenza.The TIV-MNP 2015 study was a randomised, partly blinded, placebo-controlled, phase 1, clinical trial at Emory University that enrolled non-pregnant, immunocompetent adults from Atlanta, GA, USA, who were aged 18-49 years, naive to the 2014-15 influenza vaccine, and did not have any significant dermatological disorders. Participants were randomly assigned (1:1:1:1) to four groups and received a single dose of inactivated influenza vaccine (fluvirin: 18 μg of haemagglutinin per H1N1 vaccine strain, 17 μg of haemagglutinin per H3N2 vaccine strain, and 15 μg of haemagglutinin per B vaccine strain) (1) by microneedle patch or (2) by intramuscular injection, or received (3) placebo by microneedle patch, all administered by an unmasked health-care worker; or received a single dose of (4) inactivated influenza vaccine by microneedle patch self-administered by study participants. A research pharmacist prepared the randomisation code using a computer-generated randomisation schedule with a block size of 4. Because of the nature of the study, participants were not masked to the type of vaccination method (ie, microneedle patch vs intramuscular injection). Primary safety outcome measures are the incidence of study product-related serious adverse events within 180 days, grade 3 solicited or unsolicited adverse events within 28 days, and solicited injection site and systemic reactogenicity on the day of study product administration through 7 days after administration, and secondary safety outcomes are new-onset chronic illnesses within 180 days and unsolicited adverse events within 28 days, all analysed by intention to treat. Secondary immunogenicity outcomes are antibody titres at day 28 and percentages of seroconversion and seroprotection, all determined by haemagglutination inhibition antibody assay. The trial is completed and registered with ClinicalTrials.gov, number NCT02438423.Between June 23, 2015, and Sept 25, 2015, 100 participants were enrolled and randomly assigned to a group. There were no treatment-related serious adverse events, no treatment-related unsolicited grade 3 or higher adverse events, and no new-onset chronic illnesses. Among vaccinated groups (vaccine via health-care worker administered microneedle patch or intramuscular injection, or self-administered microneedle patch), overall incidence of solicited adverse events (n=89 vs n=73 vs n=73) and unsolicited adverse events (n=18 vs n=12 vs n=14) were similar. Reactogenicity was mild, transient, and most commonly reported as tenderness (15 [60%] of 25 participants [95% CI 39-79]) and pain (11 [44%] of 25 [24-65]) after intramuscular injection; and as tenderness (33 [66%] of 50 [51-79]), erythema (20 [40%] of 50 [26-55]), and pruritus (41 [82%] of 50 [69-91]) after vaccination by microneedle patch application. The geometric mean titres were similar at day 28 between the microneedle patch administered by a health-care worker versus the intramuscular route for the H1N1 strain (1197 [95% CI 855-1675] vs 997 [703-1415]; p=0·5), the H3N2 strain (287 [192-430] vs 223 [160-312]; p=0·4), and the B strain (126 [86-184] vs 94 [73-122]; p=0·06). Similar geometric mean titres were reported in participants who self-administered the microneedle patch (all p>0·05). The seroconversion percentages were significantly higher at day 28 after microneedle patch vaccination compared with placebo (all p<0·0001) and were similar to intramuscular injection (all p>0·01).Use of dissolvable microneedle patches for influenza vaccination was well tolerated and generated robust antibody responses.National Institutes of Health.
Pub.: 02 Jul '17, Pinned: 12 Sep '17
Abstract: Influenza virus causes life-threatening infections in pregnant women and their newborns. Immunization during pregnancy is the most effective means of preventing maternal and infant mortality/morbidity; however, influenza vaccination rates of pregnant women remain under 50%. Furthermore, the availability of vaccines in low-resource populations is limited. Skin immunization with microneedle patches (MN) is a novel and safe vaccination platform featuring thermostable vaccine formulations. Cold-chain independence and the potential for self-administration can expand influenza vaccination coverage in developing countries. In this study of pregnant BALB/c mice immunized with subunit H1N1 influenza vaccine, we demonstrate the advantage of skin vaccination over intramuscular delivery of a two-fold higher vaccine dose. MN vaccine induced superior humoral immune responses and conferred protective immunity against a lethal challenge dose of homologous influenza virus. Importantly, MN vaccination of mice at mid-gestation resulted in enhanced and long-lasting passive immunity of the offspring, measured by neutralizing antibody titers and survival rates after virus challenge. We conclude that skin vaccination using MN is a superior immunization approach with the potential to overcome immune tolerance observed in pregnancy, and lower vaccination costs through antigen dose-sparing, which is especially relevant in underserved countries.
Pub.: 20 Jul '17, Pinned: 12 Sep '17
Abstract: The dermal route is an attractive route for vaccine delivery due to the easy skin accessibility and a dense network of immune cells in the skin. The development of microneedles is crucial to take advantage of the skin immunization and simultaneously to overcome problems related to vaccination by conventional needles (e.g. pain, needle-stick injuries or needle re-use). This review focuses on dissolving microneedles that after penetration into the skin dissolve releasing the encapsulated antigen. The microneedle patch fabrication techniques and their challenges are discussed as well as the microneedle characterization methods and antigen stability aspects. The immunogenicity of antigens formulated in dissolving microneedles are addressed. Finally, the early clinical development is discussed.
Pub.: 19 Jul '17, Pinned: 12 Sep '17
Abstract: There is increasing awareness of reactions to vaccination that include persistent skin reactions. We present here a retrospective investigation of long-lasting skin reactions and aluminium hypersensitivity in children, based on medical records and questionnaires sent to the parents. In the 10-year period 2003 to 2013 we identified 47 children with persistent skin reactions caused by childhood vaccinations. Most patients had a typical presentation of persisting pruritic subcutaneous nodules. Five children had a complex diagnostic process involving paediatricians, orthopaedics and plastic surgeons. Two patients had skin biopsies performed from their skin lesions, and 2 patients had the nodules surgically removed. Forty-two children had a patch-test performed with 2% aluminium chloride hexahydrate in petrolatum and 39 of them (92%) had a positive reaction. The persistent skin reactions were treated with potent topical corticosteroids and disappeared slowly. Although we advised families to continue vaccination of their children, one-third of parents omitted or postponed further vaccinations.
Pub.: 14 Apr '16, Pinned: 12 Sep '17
Abstract: Poor immunogenicity remains the single biggest obstacle to human DNA vaccines achieving their potential. Strategies to improve DNA vaccine efficacy include codon optimization, transfection reagents, electroporation, vaccine adjuvants or combination with a protein or vector boost. Increased understanding of molecular events driving innate and adaptive immune responses has assisted development of molecular adjuvants for DNA vaccine use. Such adjuvants comprise plasmid-encoded signalling molecules including cytokines, chemokines, immune costimulatory molecules, toll-like receptor agonists or inhibitors of immune suppressive pathways. New approaches including gene knockdown, epigenetics and systems biology have also contributed to an increased range of molecular adjuvant options. This review explores current and future trends in vaccine design including the latest molecular adjuvants for enhanced DNA vaccine efficacy.
Pub.: 21 Sep '16, Pinned: 12 Sep '17
Abstract: In addition to antigens, vaccines contain small amounts of preservatives, adjuvants, and residual substances from the manufacturing process. Some parents have concerns about the safety of these ingredients, yet no large epidemiological studies have specifically examined associations between health outcomes and vaccine ingredients, other than thimerosal. This study examined the extent to which the Vaccine Safety Datalink (VSD) could be used to study vaccine ingredient safety in children.Children born 2004-2011 were identified in VSD data. Using immunization records, two cohorts were identified: children who were up-to-date and children who were undervaccinated before age 2 years. A database was also created linking vaccine type and manufacturer with ingredient amounts documented in vaccine package inserts. Thirty-four ingredients in two or more infant vaccines were identified. However, only amounts (in mg) for aluminum were consistently documented and commonly contained in infant vaccines. Analyses compared vaccine aluminum exposure across cohorts and determined the statistical power for studying associations between aluminum exposure and hypothetical vaccine adverse events.Among 408,608 children, mean cumulative vaccine aluminum exposure increased from 1.11 to 4.00 mg between ages 92-730 days. Up-to-date children were exposed to 11-26% more aluminum from vaccines than undervaccinated children. Power analyses demonstrated that safety studies of aluminum could detect relative risks ranging from 1.1 to 5.8 for a range of adverse event incidence.The safety of vaccine aluminum exposure can be feasibly studied in the VSD. However, possible biological mechanisms and confounding variables would need to be considered before conducting any studies.
Pub.: 01 Nov '15, Pinned: 12 Sep '17
Abstract: Prevention of seasonal influenza epidemics and pandemics relies on widespread vaccination coverage to induce protective immunity. In addition to a good antigenic match with the circulating viruses, the effectiveness of individual strains represented in the trivalent vaccines depends on their immunogenicity. In this study, we evaluated the immunogenicity of H1N1, H3N2, and B seasonal influenza virus vaccine strains delivered individually with a novel dissolving microneedle patch and the stability of this formulation during storage at 25 °C. Our data demonstrate that all strains retained their antigenic activity after incorporation in the dissolving patches as measured by single radial diffusion (SRID) assay and immune responses to vaccination in BALB/c mice. After a single immunization, all three antigens delivered with microneedle patches induced superior neutralizing antibody titers compared to intramuscular immunization. Cutaneous antigen delivery was especially beneficial for the less immunogenic B strain. Mice immunized with dissolving microneedle patches encapsulating influenza A/Brisbane/59/07 (H1N1) vaccine were fully protected against lethal challenge by homologous mouse-adapted influenza virus. All vaccine components retained activity during storage at room temperature for at least 3 months as measured in vitro by SRID assay and in vivo by mouse immunization studies. Our data demonstrate that dissolving microneedle patches are a promising advance for influenza cutaneous vaccination due to improved immune responses using less immunogenic influenza antigens and enhanced stability.
Pub.: 22 Apr '15, Pinned: 12 Sep '17
Abstract: Millions of people die of infectious diseases each year, mostly in developing countries, which could largely be prevented by the use of vaccines. While immunization rates have risen since the introduction of the Expanded Program on Immunization (EPI), there remain major challenges to more effective vaccination in developing countries. As a possible solution, microneedle patches containing an array of micron-sized needles on an adhesive backing have been developed to be used for vaccine delivery to the skin. These microneedle patches can be easily and painlessly applied by pressing against the skin and, in some designs, do not leave behind sharps waste. The patches are single-dose, do not require reconstitution, are easy to administer, have reduced size to simplify storage, transportation and waste disposal, and offer the possibility of improved vaccine immunogenicity, dose sparing and thermostability. This review summarizes vaccination challenges in developing countries and discusses advantages that microneedle patches offer for vaccination to address these challenges. We conclude that microneedle patches offer a powerful new technology that can enable more effective vaccination in developing countries.
Pub.: 18 Nov '15, Pinned: 12 Sep '17
Abstract: Aluminum-adjuvanted vaccines are administered through an intramuscular injection (IM) in the US and EU, however, a subcutaneous injection (SC) has been recommended in Japan because of serious muscle contracture previously reported following multiple IMs of antibiotics. Newly introduced adjuvanted vaccines, such as the human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccines, have been recommended through IM. In the present study, currently available vaccines were evaluated through IM in mice. Aluminum-adjuvanted vaccines induced inflammatory nodules at the injection site, which expanded into the intra-muscular space without any muscle degeneration or necrosis, whereas non-adjuvanted vaccines did not. These nodules consisted of polymorph nuclear neutrophils with some eosinophils within the initial 48h, then monocytes/macrophages 1 month later. Inflammatory nodules were observed 6 months after IM, had decreased in size, and were absorbed 12 months after IM, which was earlier than that after SC. Cytokine production was examined in the injected muscular tissues and AS04 adjuvanted HPV induced higher IL-1β, IL-6, KC, MIP-1, and G-CSF levels in muscle tissues than any other vaccine, but similar serum cytokine profiles were observed to those induced by the other vaccines. Currently available vaccines did not induce muscular degeneration or fibrotic scar as observed with muscle contracture caused by multiple IMs of antibiotics in the past.
Pub.: 29 Apr '14, Pinned: 12 Sep '17
Abstract: In spite of a common view that aluminum (Al) salts are inert and therefore harmless as vaccine adjuvants or in immunotherapy, the reality is quite different. In the following article we briefly review the literature on Al neurotoxicity and the use of Al salts as vaccine adjuvants and consider not only direct toxic actions on the nervous system, but also the potential impact for triggering autoimmunity. Autoimmune and inflammatory responses affecting the CNS appear to underlie some forms of neurological disease, including developmental disorders. Al has been demonstrated to impact the CNS at every level, including by changing gene expression. These outcomes should raise concerns about the increasing use of Al salts as vaccine adjuvants and for the application as more general immune stimulants.
Pub.: 28 Nov '14, Pinned: 12 Sep '17
Abstract: In today's medical industry, the range of vaccines that exist for administration in humans represents an eclectic variety of forms and immunologic mechanisms. Namely, these are the live attenuated viruses, inactivated viruses, subunit proteins, and virus-like particles for treating virus-caused diseases, as well as the bacterial-based polysaccharide, protein, and conjugated vaccines. Currently, a new approach to vaccination is being investigated with the concept of DNA vaccines. As an alternative delivery route to enhance the vaccination efficacy, microneedles have been devised to target the rich network of immunologic antigen-presenting cells in the dermis and epidermis layers under the skin. Numerous studies have outlined the parameters of microneedle delivery of a wide range of vaccines, revealing comparable or higher immunogenicity to conventional intramuscular routes, overall level of stability, and dose-sparing advantages. Furthermore, recent mechanism studies have begun to successfully elucidate the biological mechanisms behind microneedle vaccination. This paper describes the current status of microneedle vaccine research.
Pub.: 16 Jan '14, Pinned: 12 Sep '17
Abstract: In studies in Gothenburg, Sweden, in the 1990s of an aluminium hydroxide-adsorbed pertussis toxoid vaccine, 745 of ~76 000 vaccinated children developed long-lasting itchy subcutaneous nodules at the vaccination site. Of 495 children with itchy nodules patch tested for aluminium allergy, 376 (76%) were positive.To study the prognosis of the vaccine-induced aluminium allergy.Two hundred and forty-one children with demonstrated aluminium allergy in the previous study were patch tested again 5-9 years after the initial test, with the same procedure as used previously.Contact allergy to aluminium was no longer demonstrable in 186 of the retested 241 children (77%). A negative test result was more common in children who no longer had itching at the vaccination site; it was also related to the age of the child, the time after the first aluminium-adsorbed vaccine dose, and the strength of the reaction in the first test.Patch test reactivity to aluminium seems to disappear or weaken with time.
Pub.: 23 Apr '13, Pinned: 12 Sep '17
Abstract: Similarly to other medications, vaccines may be responsible for allergic reactions. Although IgE-mediated allergies to vaccine are extremely rare, they are clearly overdiagnosed. Indeed, accurate diagnosis of vaccine allergy is important not only to prevent serious or even life-threatening reactions, but also to avoid unnecessary vaccine restriction. Systematic approaches have been proposed and, if implemented, will likely reduce the number of children being inappropriately labeled as allergic to vaccine. In diagnosis of vaccine allergy, the patient's history is central although not sufficient. In case of suspicion of an allergy, the child should be referred to an allergist in order to perform a complete allergy workup, based primarily on skin tests and/or specific IgE. Highlighting the most recent literature, this article will address the management of children with a possible allergy to vaccine.
Pub.: 18 Oct '13, Pinned: 12 Sep '17
Abstract: Aluminium oxyhydroxide, Al(OH)3 is one of few compounds approved as an adjuvant in human vaccines. However, the mechanism behind its immune stimulating properties is still poorly understood. In vitro co-culture of an aluminium adjuvant and the human monocytic cell line THP-1 resulted in reduced cell proliferation. Inhibition occurred at concentrations of adjuvant several times lower than would be found at the injection site using a vaccine formulation containing an aluminium adjuvant. Based on evaluation of the mitochondrial membrane potential, THP-1 cells showed no mitochondrial rupture after co-culture with the aluminium adjuvant, instead an increase in mitochondrial activity was seen. The THP-1 cells are phagocytosing cells and after co-culture with the aluminium adjuvant the phagosomal pathway was obstructed. Primary or early phagosomes mature into phagolysosomes with an internal pH of 4.5 - 5 and carry a wide variety of hydrolysing enzymes. Co-culture with the aluminium adjuvant yielded a reduced level of acidic vesicles and cathepsin L activity, a proteolytic enzyme of the phagolysosomes, was almost completely inhibited. THP-1 cells are an appropriate in vitro model in order to investigate the mechanism behind the induction of a phagocytosing antigen presenting cell into an inflammatory cell by aluminium adjuvants. Much information will be gained by investigating the phagosomal pathway and what occurs inside the phagosomes and to elucidate the ultimate fate of phagocytosed aluminium particles.
Pub.: 03 Sep '13, Pinned: 12 Sep '17
Abstract: Allergic reactions to vaccines can be classified as sensitivity to one of the vaccine components, pseudo-allergic reactions, often after hyperimmunization, and exacerbation of atopic symptoms or vasculitis. Pseudo-allergic reactions, some possibly due to hyperimmunization, are probably more common than true allergies. Atopic reactions should not be confused with the "flash" phenomenon, defined as an exacerbation of an allergic reaction due to a reduction in the allergic reactivity threshold following the vaccine injection. BCGitis occurs frequently, and for this reason, guidelines for Bacillus Calmette-Guérin (BCG) have been modified. The vaccine is now reserved for people at risk of exposure to Mycobacterium tuberculosis. This review provides an update on the vaccination modalities for people allergic to eggs, on the assessment that should be performed when a reaction occurs due to tetanus vaccination, on the urticaria after hepatitis vaccination, on an aluminum granuloma, which is more and more frequent in young children, and vasculitis after flu vaccination and BCGitis. The side effects associated with new, recently released vaccines, such as anti-influenza A H1N1 or anti-human papilloma virus (HPV) will also be presented.
Pub.: 15 Dec '12, Pinned: 12 Sep '17
Abstract: Persistent itching subcutaneous nodules and aluminium (Al) allergy have been described after vaccination with Al-adsorbed vaccines but are considered rare. Little is known about the prognosis. Sixty-four children with itching nodules following vaccination with diphtheria-tetanus-pertussis (DTP) vaccines currently used in Sweden (Infanrix® and Pentavac®) were spontaneously reported to the authors from 1999 and followed for up to 12 years. The median duration of itching was 5 years in the 44 children who were free or almost free from symptoms at the latest follow-up. Typical findings were a long interval between vaccination and onset of symptoms (months or years) and intensified itching during intercurrent infections. Contact allergy to aluminium was demonstrated in 60/63 children (95 %). Neither the incidence nor differences between the two vaccines can be estimated from this study, but vaccine-induced itching nodules are probably more common than hitherto realised. The median interval between onset of symptoms and diagnosis was 8 months in a region where nurses were educated to recognise the condition compared to 2 years in other regions. Booster vaccination with DTP-polio was postponed or declined by 15/40 families in fear for new problems. Out of 25 children who received a booster dose, only two had new itching nodules.Intensely itching subcutaneous nodules (vaccination granulomas) and contact allergy to aluminium may occur after primary vaccination with the two most commonly used DTP vaccines in Europe. The condition is probably underreported. Symptoms may last for at least 4-5 years but eventually seem to subside.
Pub.: 12 Oct '12, Pinned: 12 Sep '17
Abstract: Vaccines are composed of immunogens, preservatives, adjuvants, antibiotics, and manufacturing by-products. Components of vaccines may rarely elicit adverse reactions in susceptible individuals, thus raising concerns regarding vaccine safety. In this report, we add to the medical literature 3 cases of cutaneous delayed-type hypersensitivity to the vaccine preservative aluminum. We provide a review of major constituents in vaccines that have elicited immediate-type or delayed-type hypersensitivity reactions and describe their clinical manifestations. We include a table of the Food and Drug Administration-approved vaccines, which lists the quantities of major components including ovalbumin (egg protein), gelatin, aluminum, neomycin, 2-phenoxyethanol, thimerosal, and formaldehyde. Our goals were to inform physicians on the variety of hypersensitivity reactions to common vaccines and to provide information on the choice of vaccines in patients with suspected hypersensitivity.
Pub.: 02 Jun '12, Pinned: 12 Sep '17