Our weekly half-hour news interview. On air: Saturdays 5:30 a.m.; Sundays 8:30 a.m., 8:30 p.m. on KCBS All News 740AM and 106.9FM.
SAN FRANCISCO (KCBS) — As the current measles outbreak keeps the topic of vaccines in the news, a new program is underway at Stanford to develop new forms of vaccinations, using the power of our own immune systems.
A grant by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation will have the new Stanford Human Systems Immunology Center working on ways to combat the world’s deadliest viruses.
Doctor Mark Davis, who’s leading up this new Stanford venture, is the Director of the school’s Institute for Immunity, Transplantation and Infection. He told KCBS In Depth that they have been working the last eight years to build the technology and the experience needed to understand how vaccines work–and sometimes don’t–at a deeper level.
The flu vaccine, for example, does not work that well, he said.
“I think also in the larger sense, there’s a lot of ways in which immunology will benefit medicine generally because most every disease involves some aspect of the immune system whether it’s just immunization, the many kinds of autoimmunity or whether you’re trying to get an antitumor response in a cancer patient,” Davis said. “There’s a lot in which studying the immune system in particular could really advance our ability to do medicine and the ability to create a new generation of vaccines.
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The recent measles outbreak that has reached 14 states and infected more than 100 people has many wondering how a disease that was considered eradicated in the U.S. 15 years ago is a renewed threat to public health.
It’s reignited the debate behind the anti-vaxxer movement fueled by parents’ skepticism about the safety and usefulness of vaccines.
The hysteria is largely attributed to now unlicensed British doctor Andrew Wakefield and a now debunked study published in 1998 claiming the measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) vaccine could lead to the onset of autism.
The study of only 12 children was retracted as fraudulent and Wakefield lost his medical license, but the concept became stuck in the public psyche.
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Here’s a timeline of the rise and fall of measles outbreaks and the role the anti-vaccine movement plays: