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Newborn Vaccines

March 18, 2013

Researchers have identified a molecule that could help turn on newborn babies’ immune systems.

Transcript

BOB HIRSHON (host):

Vaccines for newborns. I’m Bob Hirshon and this is Science Update.

Globally, more than two million children under the age of 6 months die every year from infections like strep and rotavirus. That’s due in part to the relative immaturity of the newborn immune system. But researcher David Dowling and his colleagues at Boston Children’s Hospital have now identified a molecule that could potentially kickstart a newborn’s response to vaccines. Dr. Ofer Levy, who supervised the study, explains.

OFER LEVY (Boston Children’s Hospital):

We took cord blood cells from newborn humans, and we added different molecules to them to determine whether some of these could boost newborn immune response.

HIRSHON:

They found that a molecule called VTX-294 activated receptors on white blood cells, which rapidly mounted an immune response. The researchers hope VTX molecules could one day be added to vaccines so they can start working as early as the first day of a baby’s life. I’m Bob Hirshon, for AAAS, the science society.

Infants have underdeveloped immune systems. (Jupiter Images)