New Antibody Injection May Protect Against Zika

With the rise and spread of the devastating Zika virus, researchers have been racing towards the creation of a vaccine. A new antibody injection, however, may prove more effective and may become available in a timelier manner. A recent lab study has shown success deterring the risk of contracting Zika using a blended dose of three potent antibodies.

Interception with Injection

Modern researchers have been steadfastly working on new forms of immunology to deter and/or fight viruses. Immunology is the branch of science/medicine concerned with the function of the biological immune system and its responses. Immunologists experiment with laboratory techniques that involve the interaction of antigens with antibodies. Antigens are the invaders (toxins, viruses) that trigger and immune response. Antibodies are blood protein molecules that attack antigens.

For decades, immunology has focused on utilizing vaccines to help keep certain diseases and viruses at bay. Vaccines train our immune system to produce its own antibodies to fight off the foreign invader. Instead, injecting pre-made antibodies to provide instant protection against pathogens is a newer practice of immunology. This type of disease-fighting implementation may last temporarily, but it is effective and immediate.

Calling All Antibodies

Antibodies basically block pathogens (like the Zika virus) from entering human cells. The beauty of this science is that the virus can’t spread (or survive) because it can’t make copies of itself outside a cell. Therefore, injecting specific antibodies that targets a specific virus seems like a palpable preventative step. This is exactly what researchers at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine were thinking.

Anti-Zika Cocktail

The team of researchers, which included pathologist David Watkins, collected over 90 antibodies from a Zika patient in Columbia. They chose the three most potent antibodies and cloned them to create enough for a series of experimental injections. The injection was introduced into four monkeys a day before being exposed to the Zika virus. None of them became infected—even after three weeks of observation. (Unfortunately, the others who were exposed who were not given the injection of antibodies developed the virus.)

The less-appealing factor of implementing antibodies is that they don’t live incredibly long. They may remain effective for weeks, perhaps months in some instances. So, in order to lower the risk for a pregnant woman from contracting Zika, she would need a few injections over the course of her pregnancy to ensure she remained virus-free.

Pregnant women living in or traveling to areas where Zika is abundant is perilous to the health of their fetus. The Zika virus can cause microcephaly and other neurological birth defects. To understand more about the virus, how it’s contracted, spread, avoided, see

A Protection Against Zika Breakthrough

Although this antibody study was conducted on monkeys, it provides information (and hope) that humans may soon be protected from contracting the Zika virus. It is not a vaccine, but that may be OK. Vaccines can provide longer-lasting protection, but their effects can also vary amongst different individuals.

The next step will be to test the antibody cocktail on pregnant monkeys. Then, after that, clinical trials will need to be conducted with humans. There are several positive notes in this regard: for one, antibody injections may carry fewer or less severe side effects than vaccines; another perk—antibody therapy may contribute to the decrease in many different viruses, including HIV and Ebola.

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What You Should Know About The HPV Vaccine

The Human Pappiloma Virus (HPV) causes almost all cervical cancer cases.  HPV is also linked to throat, anus, penis, vagina, and vulva cancer. A vaccine that prevents infection from the virus has been available for several years. Yet, an alarmingly few number of people are getting the vaccine. What’s going on?

HPV Does Not Discriminate

HPV is the #1 sexually transmitted disease in the US. In fact, most sexually active men and women WILL contract it at one point (or more) in their lives. In the majority of cases, your body will fight it off and it will go away on its own. That doesn’t sound too scary, right?

But check this out: Every year over 17,000 women and almost 10,000 men are affected by cancers—caused by HPV.

Anyone who has vaginal, anal, or oral sex is susceptible to getting HPV. It’s easily spread and most infected people have no idea they have it. And although condom use is strongly recommended to thwart STD’s, condoms do not completely protect you from getting HPV.

Signs and Symptoms

As mentioned, most people aren’t aware they’re infected because there are no immediate signs or symptoms. If your body cannot fight it off, it can take years before health problems arise. One such noticeable sign are genital warts.

Genital warts are bumps found on the penis or vagina. They can be large, small, raised, or flat. You will need treatment to remove them.

A PAP test can detect abnormalities to cervical cells. Sometimes, the infection is fought off, and the next test may be back to normal. But if it’s not, you will need treatment before the cells become cancerous. And if it’s gone undetected for years, you may already have cervical cancer.

Females who have the greatest risk of getting cervical cancer are those who:

-Do not get PAP tests or do not get them often enough

-Have HPV and it doesn’t go away

-Have HIV


Doctors, nurses, and other health care experts would argue that one more group needs to be added to that list. That would be: Those who aren’t vaccinated against HPV; they too run a great risk.

Why Aren’t People Getting Vaccinated?

The CDC reports that only about one-third adolescent girls have completed the HPV vaccine 3-dose series. Dr. Deanna Kepka, a scientist at Huntsman Cancer Institute says that six in 10 boys aren’t even getting the first dose. (NOTE: In November 2016, the CDC altered it’s recommendation to getting two doses within a year instead of the original three given in six months.)

Some believe there’s still a stigma against getting vaccinated for a sexually transmitted disease. With only 51% of teens getting vaccinated each year, there’s got to be miscommunication or lack thereof.

Parents and health providers need to be educated and spread vaccine awareness. If parents are too uncomfortable broaching the subject of sex (and its potential dangers), then doctors need to step in and inform. If parents don’t believe their children are (or soon will be) sexually active, they may be naïve in their thinking. Better safe than sorry—even if it’s uncomfortable.

The HPV vaccine can be viewed as cancer prevention.


The American Cancer Society recommends females aged 21-29 get a PAP test every three years. For females 30-65, get a PAP every three and an HPV test every five years.

The CDC recommends the first dose of the HPV vaccine be given to girls and boys beginning at around age 11 or 12. The second dose should be administered within 6-12 months after. The vaccine is also recommended for gay and bisexual men, or men and women with compromised immune systems through age 26.

An RN who worked with cancer patients phrased it this way, “Cancer of the cervix, throat, and rectum often go undetected and are asymptomatic until sometimes it’s too late.  Cancer patients’ treatments are not easy, not guaranteed, often disfiguring, and financially and emotionally crippling for the whole family.”

Prevention can be kinder and safer way to go.

As with all vaccines, you have a choice to make the best decision suited for your health values and beliefs for your family and community. Understanding more about HPV and the available vaccine may help you make a better-informed choice, one way or the other.


Could You or Your Teen Have a Sexually Transmitted Disease?

Just when we thought cases of STD’s were declining, it turns out the exact opposite is true. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention recently posted a health alert. Sexually transmitted diseases have reached an all-time high in the US.

Is History Repeating Itself?

Sexually transmitted diseases have existed for centuries. For some, we’ve found a cure or a vaccine. For others, there is no vaccine, only medicine to keep the virus from spreading and potentially causing death.

Syphilis, for example, has been around for at least 500 years. One of the first written records of an outbreak occurred in Italy around 1494. (They claim it came from the French when they invaded.) Another historical medical illustration showed people in Vienna around that time suffering from a syphilis outbreak.

It wasn’t until the invention and use of penicillin in the US in the 1940s, that many diseases became treatable. Gonorrhea and Chlamydia are also treatable with antibiotics, if caught in time. Those diseases, along with syphilis, left untreated leave a person at higher risk for contracting HIV, reproductive disorders, blindness, and blood infections.

Transmittable Diseases on the Rise

Just because many of our current STD’s can be treated, doesn’t mean you’ll get treatment. In a multitude of cases, people don’t present symptoms or don’t know they have a disease until something health-wise goes horribly wrong.

One of the many scary statistics is that one in eight people don’t know they have HIV. Currently, there are more than 1.2 million people in the US are living with the virus.

In October of 2016, the CDC published that STD cases are growing. In 2015, there were more than 1.5 million cases of Chlamydia, almost a half-million cases of gonorrhea, and about 25,000 cases of syphilis. With some diseases, these figures were almost a 20% increase in cases from just the previous year!

The most common STD in the US is genital herpes. Approximately one in six people between the ages of 14 and 49 have it. It is contagious and incurable.

Why is This a Problem?

This is a problem because these are preventable illnesses. Primarily, it causes potentially extreme health hazards to innocent individuals. Those who’ve contracted herpes or HIV must live with the virus daily, for the rest of their lives.

Additionally, each year (just in STD care), it costs the American medical system over 16 billion dollars.

To reiterate the dilemma, there are over 110 million men and women in the US who currently have (or have recently contracted): chlamydia, gonorrhea, herpes, HPV, syphilis, HIV, and/or trichomoniasis.

What Can We Do to Help Others and Ourselves?

According to the CDC, “America’s youth shoulder a substantial burden of these infections.” They estimate that half of all new STDs occur among teens and young men and women.

Prevention awareness and services seem to be at an all-time low. The director for the National Center for HIV/AIDS says we must, “mobilize, rebuild, and expand services or the numbers will continue to expand.”

Adults should endeavor to learn about STDs wherever they can. Doctors should help educate parents and youngsters. Parents can help inform their teens. Teens should support their peers with information.

Keeping yourself, your children, and others in your community disease-free is a priority. Spreading awareness, educating, and practicing prevention is a phenomenal step towards reducing these numbers—and helping the health of our country.



Human Trial for Zika Vaccine is Underway

A DNA-based vaccine has shown to have great success on monkeys. Testing on humans has begun.

Monkey Business

There are currently a few other human trials of other potential Zika vaccines underway. This particular DNA-based experiment is different because it protected monkeys from acquiring infection from the virus. Its effectiveness is very promising in humans since it was so successful on a lower primate species.

Ted Pierson, chief of Viral Pathogenesis at the US National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, reported the positive outcome from the monkey trial study. He stated that of the 18 primates who received a full dose of the vaccine, 17 were protected from the viral infection. The other monkeys that were given only one shot were not protected, but their bodies did create antibodies.

So, at least for the primates, the vaccine is successful; it’s just the proper dosage that still remains nebulous.

The Human Condition

Although the findings in the primate study are exciting, similar results are not always guaranteed with humans. The first phase of the human trial, however, will garner more insight for the researchers.

This potential vaccine uses the actual Zika virus in the manufacturing of synthetically created DNA. The piece of DNA, when absorbed into the body, hopefully, creates an immune response to the virus. By introducing tiny bits of Zika into the cells, the scientists hope the human body will create an antibody response. This desired cellular reaction would (optimistically) protect the body against the Zika virus.

More About Zika

At this juncture, we know that Zika is a virus that is spread through mosquito bites, blood transfusions, and sexual intercourse. The virus has been linked to Gullain-Barre syndrome, which can cause paralysis. It also causes birth defects, such as microcephaly, which is brain-related.

Pierson explains, “”The reason why there are Zika-associated neurodevelopmental defects is because the virus is actually infecting the fetus and attacking developing neurons in the fetus, causing direct harm.”

This is why a DNA-based vaccine would be revolutionary for the battle against Zika. The vaccine would create an immune response in pregnant women that would keep Zika at bay (or at least left with only a small strain of the virus.) This would, in turn, keep the unborn fetus from becoming infected, and hence getting the birth defects.

Scientists around the globe are conducting experiments with potential vaccines at a rapid pace. Everyone understands that time is of the essence when it comes to protecting the population from this virus.

Check out for more articles on Zika and other health-related topics.

Get Infected with Zika to Help Researchers Create Vaccine

Scientists are seeking volunteers willing to be injected with the Zika virus.

A Shot of Courage

The experiment is not solely based on making people sick. Scientists need information about how the virus acts in order to help create a vaccine. After the volunteers are injected, the researchers will track how the virus affects an otherwise healthy person.

This particular study will commence this winter. In the meanwhile, there are two other possible vaccines that have been created but haven’t been thoroughly tested. Safety testing has already started. If they seem to be feasibly successful, the experimental phase will begin. That means trying the vaccine on human subjects.

Time is of the Essence

“We are right now in a race of time to get the best vaccine,” said Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of NIH’s National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. The only way to test an experimental vaccine is to see if it protects those getting the shot. Any vaccines that appear to be safe and effective in the lab will eventually be tested on people in high-risk areas. The first people to receive the experimental vaccine will be those in South- and Latin-America, the Carribean, and other spots where the virus is running rampant.

Accepting the Challenge

Scientists are not exactly sure of how much of the virus to inject into the volunteers. (By the way, the subjects will be both healthy males and non-pregnant females.) The plan is to infect the volunteers with lab-grown Zika. First, they need to figure out how much is needed to cause an infection—in order to create a vaccine strong enough to deter it.

Before accepting the job, volunteers understand that they may expect a rash or fever after being injected. They will also be required to use condoms, so they do not spread Zika through sexual transmission. Different people will receive different amounts of the virus. Everyone will be kept and monitored for 12 days at John Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore (possibly by this December.)


Experimental studies on humans are not very common. They are challenging to perform and are extremely expensive. So, the first round of research is for discovery about the virus and to create a (hopefully) effective vaccine. The second round is to administer the vaccine to volunteers—then six months later try to infect them with Zika. The results of such an experiment will inform scientists if the vaccine is effective, or how it needs to be tweaked.

Fauci has stated that the NIH will need almost $200 million dollars (just through 2017) to continue its diligent work on Zika vaccine research. Federal funding for America’s fight on Zika hasn’t yet been approved by Congress. In the meanwhile, private funding and “borrowing from Peter to pay Paul” has been the action federal health officials have been taking. Let’s hope we can find the necessary funds and an effective vaccine sooner than later…

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