6-week online course on vaccinology

The Pasteur Institute, together with the CNAM, offers a free online course on vaccines. The course has just started and will go on for 6 weeks, so still time to have a look!

“The objective of this course is to offer an integrated overview of vaccinology, from public health and scientific data justifying the development of a vaccine, to its delivery to the populations in the context of industrialized and developing countries.”

Note: the course is aimed at people with some scientific/medical background, so some parts may be a bit difficult to follow for lay persons; nevertheless, there should be some more general/introductory videos from which anyone can learn at least a little something!


Measles-induced immune amnesia

Measles is no trifling childhood disease. The virus is extremely contagious, and measles infection can have severe complications, such as pneumonia, encephalitis, brain damage, and death. Now, a recent study published in Science suggests that measles can also leave children more vulnerable to other pathogens for as long as two to three years after infection.

Mass measles vaccination is known to be associated with a general reduction in childhood mortality. In every country where it has been introduced, it has been followed by a decrease in the number of childhood deaths, not just from measles, but also from other non-measles infectious diseases.

Why is that? How can a vaccine designed to protect you from measles also protect you from other infectious diseases? Continue reading

In brief (March 2015, part I): immune variability and HPV vaccine

Two picks from what I’ve read over the past couple of months:
the adaptability of the immune system, or how our immune system is more heavily shaped by our environment and the microbes we encounter than by our genes,
HPV vaccine safety profile, or how a nationwide study conducted in Sweden and Denmark found no increased risk of developing multiple sclerosis or other demyelinating diseases following quadrivalent HPV vaccination. Continue reading

In brief (October 2014): immunology, sea levels, gender stereotype, and nanomedicine

A selection from what I’ve read over the past couple of months:
immune response and genetic variation, or how interindividual genetic variation affects immune cell behavior, contributing to differences in how people respond to pathogens and how susceptible they are to develop autoimmune diseases,
ice melting and sea rising, or how global seal levels and ice volumes have changed over the past 35,000 years,
gender and speaking up, or how stereotypes related to gender affect an individual’s decision to contribute his/her ideas to a group,
anticancer nanomedicine, or how nano should nanoparticles be to optimally penetrate tumor tissue and exert their anticancer effect. Continue reading

In brief (June 2014) – Aspirin and influenza, evolution of self-control, celecoxib and cancer

Three picks among what I’ve read in the past months:
aspirin, prostaglandin E2, and influenza, or how blocking the production of prostaglandin E2 can help in the fight against influenza A virus
evolution of self-control, or how absolute, not relative, brain size correlates with cognition across species
drug repurposing, or how celecoxib, a non steroidal anti-inflammatory agent used in arthritis, may help to inhibit the formation of new blood vessels, tumor growth, and metastasis in mice. Continue reading

In brief (April 2014) – Interferon beta and multiple sclerosis; vitamin A and immunity

It has been a while since I shared a selection of the scientific articles I had recently read , so here it is:
interferon beta and multiple sclerosis, or how the identification of a new immune cell type may give yet another clue as to how interferon beta exerts a therapeutic effect,
vitamin A and immunity, or how lack of vitamin A affects the development of the immune system and its priorities. Continue reading

Old goods, new manufacturers: parasite infection, IL-17 and B cells

High school-level immunology teaches us that in response to infection, the immune system can deploy three main lines of defense: 1) innate immunity, where cells such as neutrophils and macrophages eat up pathogens and destroy them; 2) adaptive cellular immunity, where immune cells known as T lymphocytes either produce molecules called cytokines to activate other cell types and coordinate the immune response (helper T lymphocytes) or directly recognize and kill infected cells (cytotoxic T lymphocytes); Continue reading

In brief (April 2013) – Microbiome, gender and diabetes; stealth nanoparticles and anticancer drug; (not quite) dream reading

Three picks from what I’ve read over the past two months:
microbiome, gender and diabetes, or how gut bacteria influence susceptibility to disease in females versus males in a mouse model of type 1 diabetes,
stealth nanoparticles and drug delivery, or how a short chain of amino acids can get anticancer drug-carrying nanoparticles past the defenses of the immune system,
(not quite) dream reading, or how researchers can approximately tell what kind of images are going trough your mind in the stage 1 of sleep. Continue reading

The blood typing game

If you want to learn the basics of blood typing and blood transfusion, try the blood typing game !

The game can be found on the Nobel Prize website, along with other games related to other Nobel Prizes in Physiology or Medicine (the 1930 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine was awarded to Karl Landsteiner for the discovery of human blood groups in 1901).

For the complete newbies, there is a good tutorial telling you all about blood types, antibodies, agglutination, etc (once you’ve chosen what game you want to play, go to the main menu for the tutorials).