Professor Emeritus Ed Ishiguro, retired from the University of Victoria for almost ten years, gave those present at the meeting on April 10th a fascinating and entertaining description of our immune system and the vaccines designed to both protect us from, and treat diseases.
A gifted scientist, Dr. Ishiguro made what could be baffling topics easy for all members to understand and appreciate.
He explained how there has been a huge increase in measles since 2000 and defined the term “herd mentality” (each infected person infects 12-18 people – the more people who become immunized, the less probability of an epidemic). The recent outbreaks are the result of “vaccine hesitancy”. Those who hesitate to get their children vaccinated are ignoring the fact that there those who cannot get vaccinated for various medical reasons and they are risking their lives.
The ZMapp vaccine developed in Canada is an example of a next generation therapeutic vaccine. As of April this year, 25,550 people were infected with Ebola and 10,000 had died. The antibodies in ZMapp prevent the Ebola virus attaching to human cells but it takes two weeks to produce a protective level of antibodies and it can only be given up to 5 days after the person is infected.
He finished with a fascinating view into an exciting new frontier: cancer immunology. He discussed a few areas of very promising research that show that the next generation of vaccines will not only protect but treat us.