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Subunit Vaccines

Human Anatomy, Physiology, and Medicine. Anything human!

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Subunit Vaccines

Postby Procrastinate » Mon May 10, 2010 8:01 am

I have heard about attenuated live forms of vaccines, partial toxins as well as inactivated forms of vaccine. however, I recently came across subunit which is infrequently mentioned. I was wondering, what does this mean? I know what the other three are but I am not sure about this one...Is it basically the same as partial toxins?
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Postby Jillo725 » Mon May 10, 2010 6:33 pm

sorta. partial toxin vaccines are don't want to cause harm to the human which the toxin would if it was fully intact. so you break the protein apart and use only an antigenic part and not the pathogenic part.

a subunit vaccine can be any part of a microbe that elicits an immune response. sometimes a capsid protein of a virus sometimes a surface protein of a bacterium. there are issues with it though...

as i remember it the issue with subunit vaccines is that it's not all that's required to initiate an immune response.

To activate a T cell two signals are required. one from the microbe (called the antigen). and another signal (sometimes from the microbe sometimes from the host responding to the microbe).

Therefore you can't just put the capsid protein in a needle and inject it. it requires things called conjugates so sometimes subunit vaccines are called conjugate vaccines as well.
"There is no adequate defense, except stupidity, against the impact of a new idea."
— Percy Williams Bridgman, US physicist
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Postby Darby » Tue May 11, 2010 7:53 pm

The problem with subunits see to be that they aren't in the same orientation as they would be sticking out of a pathogen, and antibodies made for them can't connect to the "natural" subunits because the pathogen surface gets in the way.
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Postby odry147 » Tue Aug 02, 2011 8:55 am

To make subunit vaccines, pharmaceutical companies strip away everything but the proteins associated with specific and unique antigens. With the use of genetic engineering, organisms can be manipulated so they will express these proteins in large amounts for vaccine production. The subunit vaccine is not virulent because it does not contain the genetic material from the virus, only the proteins on the exterior of the virus.
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