Improving Measles Vaccine Efficacy with the Help of a Rat
Mar 15, 2011

The cotton rat helps researchers at Ohio State University with vaccine efficacy

Have you ever wondered how the immunization schedule is created and what determines the ideal age for children to receive immunizations from certain diseases? 
When exploring this question you can refer to the videos on the Vaccinate Your Baby website.   Here experts explain that the schedule is influenced by evaluating the risks.  In other words, children should be immunized against disease prior to the time when they are most susceptible. 
However, in the case of measles, the recommended schedule for administering the vaccine has a lot to do with efficacy.  Children don’t receive a measles vaccination until they are 12-15 months old, mainly because the maternal antibodies that nursing mothers transfer to their babies through their breast milk keeps the vaccination from working effectively.  Unfortunately, while breast milk has numerous health advantages to children, in the case of measles the maternal antibodies aren’t necessarily strong enough to protect a child from infection.   Therefore, a child is vulnerable to contracting this highly contagious disease before the vaccine is able to be effectively administered. 
Fortunately, just this past weekend, The Columbus Dispatch detailed current research being conducted at Ohio State University.  With the help of a common cotton rat, the study (as detailed here) was able to determine how the maternal antibodies interfere with the efficacy of the vaccine and then test a protein that can be added to the vaccine to make it more effective at a younger age.     
Since measles is a highly contagious disease, that often causes severe brain damage in those that contract it, these advancements are very promising.  Additionally, since we have seen several documented measles outbreaks in the US in just the past few weeks, these advancements couldn’t happen soon enough.  Hopefully, in the future, we can provide more children with the protection they need, when they need it.

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