A Quick History of Vaccine Development

The COVID-19 pandemic continues to impact millions worldwide as vaccines continue to be distributed to people in lockdown and countries with high infection rates. But many people have been skeptical of these vaccines, which were developed at an unprecedented speed. Understanding the history of vaccine development and the methods used to create the modern COVID vaccines is a great way to make informed decisions about your health. Here is a quick history of vaccine development to help you understand the importance of fortifying your immune system.

Types of Vaccines

Vaccines are meant to give your immune system the building blocks to fortify you against specific viruses without exposing your cells to the infection itself. When a vaccine is administered, it will trigger an immune response, creating antibodies within your immune system to fight off the virus. In the life sciences journey resource produced by Avantor, the development of various vaccines are essential milestones in the history and innovation of our global healthcare industry. There are a few different types of vaccines; all are developed in similar yet varying ways that can impact the treatment’s long-term effectiveness. Here are the various types of vaccines.

Live, Attenuated Vaccines

Attenuated vaccines are created by passing the virus through a series of animal cells to weaken it and transform it slightly so it can no longer successfully reproduce within human cells. This attenuated version of the virus is then used in vaccine creation. When injected into the human host, the immune system can still recognize and fight the virus without it replicating within the human cells. With live attenuated vaccines, there is a risk of the virus mutating into a new form that can replicate in human cells. Still, generally, these vaccines are longer lasting and effective.

Inactivated Vaccines

Inactivated vaccines are similar to attenuated vaccines, but the virus is killed using heat or chemicals that do not damage the structure of the virus but still stop it from ever reproducing or mutating. These dead viruses are used in the vaccine and will trigger the immune response in the human host, creating antibodies. Though there are no risks of this virus mutating, inactivated vaccines are more likely to require a booster shot.

Toxoids

Some diseases are caused by toxins released by viruses rather than the virus itself, such as tetanus. This differentiation is essential when creating vaccines. Vaccines designed to combat toxins are called toxoids and are made similarly in inactivated vaccines, though they use a dead version of the toxin rather than the virus.

Subunit and Conjugate Vaccines

Subunit and Conjugate vaccines are created using only a part of the disease-causing pathogens. Subunit vaccines are created by isolating a specific virus protein and resenting it as an antigen on its own. Subunit vaccines can also be engineered by inserting a gene code for a vaccine protein into another virus of producer cells which will then reproduce and generate more of the vaccine protein. This is called a recombinant vaccine. Conjugate vaccines are similarly created, using only pieces of the virus. However, conjugate vaccines only use the coats of bacteria chemically linked to the carrier protein.

mRNA Vaccines

One of the most modern vaccine development techniques includes messenger RNA. The mRNA vaccination method, according to Avantor, “works by introducing a portion of the virus’ mRNA to the body and allowing the immune response to build antibodies without actually exposing the patient to the virus.” Messenger RNA is the strand f DNA responsible for relaying the blueprints of protein creation to the body’s cells. By programming these mRNA, vaccines can trigger widespread antibody production in the host.

This was a quick rundown of vaccines and how they work within the human body. Vaccines will continue to be an integral part of human healthcare as we face new and evolving viruses. A strong understanding of how vaccines are made, and work will help you make informed decisions about your healthcare.

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