【《We Chinese in AmericaMedia Editor Tang Zhao, November 30, 2022Barney Graham, a former scientist at the U.S. National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), was thrilled yesterday when Pfizer announced encouraging results from an experimental vaccine that could protect against a major childhood killer. In a press release, the company said immunizing pregnant women* with its vaccine against respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) protected their babies from severe disease for 6 months. If the full results of its clinical trial bear out that promise, the vaccine could spare millions of infants worldwide from RSV-related hospitalization, reduce lasting lung damage from the virus, and help prevent some of the estimated 120,000 childhood deaths the viruses cause annually. The Pfizer news represents a personal milestone for Graham because his NIAID team made a fundamental discovery about vaccine design that’s used in its RSV shot, as well as in approved or potential vaccines for COVID-19 and other infectious diseases.(Photo Courtesy: news.rice.edu)

Vaccine development for RSV was derailed after a trial of a candidate in 1966 led to two deaths and the hospitalization of 80% of the infants who received the product, which contained an inactivated version of the entire virus. But Graham, who began working on RSV in 1985 when he was a 32-year-old clinician, created a safer, more potent vaccine that only contains the RSV surface protein known as F.

The F protein rearranges its structure when the virus infects and fuses with a cell. Graham, who is now at the Morehouse School of Medicine, led an NIAID team that designed a molecular strategy to lock F into its original, “prefusion” configuration, stimulating the most powerful antibody responses. Graham’s NIAID group made a similar modification to the SARS-CoV-2 surface protein, spike, which was adopted by Moderna, Pfizer, and other companies in their designs of COVID-19 vaccines.

(Source: Science)

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About the author: Dr. Ronald G. Jan who specializes in Vascular Surgery is a Clinical Professor of Surgery at the University of California at Davis School of Medicine. He has been serving as the Director of Paul Hom’s Asian (Free) Clinic since 2005. As a hobby, he holds WSET level 3 certification in wines and has been writing and publishing wine commentaries attracting lots of readers.


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