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Vaccines--How and Why?

Acellular vaccine- a vaccine made from a part or parts of an infectious agent. An acellular vaccine does not contain whole cells.

Adjuvant- a substance which is mixed with an antigen to enhance the resulting immune response. An adjuvant is not antigenic by itself.

Active immunization- the administration of a vaccine or toxoid which causes an immunologic response involving production of specific antibody or antitoxin.

Antibody- a protein, produced by plasma cells, which binds specifically to an antigen. Antibodies play a major role in the immune response.

Antigen- a substance, often a protein, which induces an immune response.

Biotechnology- the use of living organisms to improve human and animal health, agriculture, industrial processes and other similar areas.

Booster- a second vaccination, separated from the first by time, which results in an increase or extension of the effectiveness of the original vaccination.

Bovine- pertaining to cows.

Conjugated vaccine- a vaccine consisting of more than one antigen. For example, the MMR vaccine is a conjugated vaccine consisting of antigens specific for measles, mumps, and rubella.

Cow pox- also called "variolae vaccinae," a relatively benign disease of cows which causes pus filled blisters similar to those seen in smallpox. Unlike lethal smallpox, however, the blisters eventually disappear, leaving only a small scar at the site of the blister.

Equine- pertaining to horses.

Genetic engineering- the manipulation of genetic material, generally to produce a therapeutic or agricultural product either more quickly, or in greater quantities, than is seen in nature.

Genome- an organism's genetic material. The complete set of genetic information contained in a single organism.

Graese- an equine disease which causes open lesions. Noted by Edward Jenner to be related to the development of cow pox.

Herd immunity- immunity characteristics of a population. Depends both on immune function of individuals within the population and on the rate of transmission amongst individuals.

Immune response- response of the immune system to the presence of antigen(s). Involves function of a variety of cell types, including T and B lymphocytes, macrophages and others.

Immunization- the process of inducing or providing immunity by administering a vaccine, toxoid or antibody containing preparation. See Active Immunization, Passive Immunization and Vaccination.

Inactivated vaccine- a vaccine made from an infectious agent that has been inactivated or killed in some way. See Killed Vaccine.

Killed vaccine- a vaccine made from an infectious agent that has been inactivated or killed in some way. See Inactivated Vaccine.

Memory cell- long-living cells which are produced as part of a normal immune response. These cells are responsible for rapid immunologic response to second and subsequent infections by a particular agent.

Morbidity- percentage of population exhibiting injury or disease.

Mortality- percentage of the population which died.

Mutation- a relatively rare, random event in which the base sequence of a DNA molecule is changed. A mutation which occurs in a functional gene may result in modification of the gene product.

Passive immunization- immunization with preformed antibodies or antitoxins. Results in temporary immunity.

Plasma cell- derivative of a B lymphocyte which secretes antibodies.

Smallpox- an acute, highly infectious, often lethal viral disease characterized by chills, fever, headache and eventual formation of widespread pus-filled blisters. The smallpox virus has been eradicated from the world's population and currently exists in only two high-containment laboratories.

Toxin- a poisonous substance.

Toxoid- a toxin which has been modified so that it is no longer toxic, but which retains its antigenic functions. Can be used as a vaccine either alone, or in combination with anti-toxin molecules.

Transcription- the process in which genetic information is transferred from a DNA molecule to an RNA molecule.

Translation- the process in which genetic information is transferred from an RNA molecule into a polypeptide product.

Vaccination- to induce immunity by the presentation of whole or part of a pathogen to the body in order to stimulate an immune response. See immunization. Originally developed by Edward Jenner using material from cow pox lesions, the term is from the Latin "vacca" meaning "cow." See Immunization. "Vaccination" and "Immunization" are often used synonymously.

Vaccine- a harmless variant or derivative of a pathogen which is presented to the body in order to induce an immune response.

Variolation- early form of immunization which involved the presentation of material collected from smallpox lesions to uninfected individuals with the goal of inducing immunity to future infection with smallpox.

Virulent- poisonous or pathogenic. Able to cause illness or disease.

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