Human Preventive & Therapeutic Vaccines

A preventative vaccine is administered to a person who is free of the targeted infection. By introducing a part of the virus or an inactive virus (which acts like a decoy) into the body, the immune system reacts by producing antibodies. Preventive vaccines are widely used to prevent diseases like polio, chicken pox, measles, mumps, rubella, influenza (flu), and hepatitis A and B.

In addition to preventive vaccines, there are also “therapeutic vaccines”. These are vaccines that are designed to treat people who already have a disease. Some scientists prefer to refer to therapeutic vaccines as “therapeutic immunogens.

While traditional vaccines are designed to prevent disease, researchers are working on something new: therapeutic vaccines, vaccinations that treat an illness after you have it.

Therapeutic vaccines have the potential to change medical treatment radically and may be able to treat all sorts of scourges, such as:

Standard preventative vaccines work by helping your immune system develop immunity to a weakened or dead form of a germ. Then, when you actually come into contact with the live germ, your immune system knows how to fight it off.

While the immune system works very well most of the time, some illnesses -- like cancer, HIV, and Alzheimer's -- don't trigger an effective immune response. In the case of some cancers, the immune system simply fails to recognize the invading cells. Other viruses, like HIV, can overwhelm the immune system and shut it down before it can work.

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