Getting shingles is not pleasant.
First, a burning pain breaks out across parts of the body — most often the trunk and waist. Then, the painful areas erupt in fluid-filled blisters, sometimes accompanied by fatigue or fever.
As any parent who’s held down a screaming toddler in a pediatrician’s office can attest, childhood immunizations — while necessary — can be difficult. With up to five pokes required at a single visit, multiple boosters for a single vaccine, and a flu shot recommended each year, it can be difficult for even the most organized caregiver to keep up.
Luckily, researchers at Massachusetts Institute of Technology have just invented a new method that could allow all immunizations to be condensed into a single jab. The procedure was outlined in a September paper published in Science.
Despite pharmacy warnings and advertisements everywhere, over half of the U.S. still avoids the flu shot every year.
There are plenty of reasons to avoid a shot that may or may not even prevent the flu — fear of needles, fatigue and muscle aches are just a few deterrents from going through with the shot. A person may even remain unvaccinated and avoid getting sick out of sheer luck.
In 2016 alone, prescription opioids, heroin and synthetic opioids like fentanyl were responsible for more than 64,000 deaths. Fentanyl alone accounted for a 600 percent increase in opioid-related deaths between 2014 and 2016. In the journey to solve this epidemic, addiction researchers may have finally stumbled upon an answer that could one day save thousands of lives and slow down the tragedy eroding parts of the country--a vaccine that might inoculate the brain against drugs like heroin and other opioids.
While heroin and its prescription cousins, like Vicodin and oxycontin, are plenty addictive themselves, drug users have been turning to synthetic versions of these drugs that “can sometimes be as much as 100 times more potent than heroin,” said chemist Kim D. Janda of The Scripps Research Institute (TSRI) in California at a recent meeting of the American Chemical Society. Black market opiates are rumored to be as much as 10,000 times more powerful than morphine. “Moreover, many patients [are] receiving treatment relapse," Janda added.
When FluMist hit the market in 2003, parents rejoiced. They could protect their children from the potentially deadly influenza virus without subjecting them to the needle. But now it turns out the popular alternative, which is administered via nose spray, doesn’t get the job done. The CDC reports that FluMist does not protect against flu, and is making the recommendation that parents vaccinate their children using the traditional injectable flu vaccine this year. Last year, more than 146 million Americans were vaccinated against the flu. The FluMist option accounts for about a third of all flu vaccines given to children every year.
Scientists have a lead on a vaccine for the Zika virus, and it can be found in our own cells.
Scientists at the University of Massachusetts Medical School (UMMS) discovered that a small human protein, interferon-induced protein 3 (IFITM3), can greatly reduce the infectious ability of the Zika virus. In some cases, it can actually prevent Zika from killing cells.