Vaccination against infectious diseases has saved millions of lives. The recurrent threat of influenza pandemics and the prevalence of global HIV infections underscore the need for better-designed, more effective vaccines.
Hepatitis B surface antigen, rod-shaped and spherical viral particles measuring 20 nm, was detected in the sera of persons with the Australia agent and later used for the preparation of the hepatitis vaccine.
This vaccine was hugely effective in hundreds of millions of people in Asia and Africa and significantly decreased the rate of carriers of the disease and the incidence of liver cancer, a possible sequel to viral hepatitis.
In the United States, clinicians were reluctant to use a vaccine prepared from the sera of infected persons. The vaccine was withdrawn from the market and, in 1988, was replaced by the hepatitis B vaccine prepared by the expression of the viral coat proteins in baker’s yeast.
Article and image courtesy of Dov L. Boros, PhD.