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BULLETIN OF THE WORLD HEALTH ORGANIZATION. 1985; 63(2):241-8.The WHO memorandum outlines the present situation regarding pertussis vaccines, discusses ways to evaluate candidate vaccines, and identifies future research needs. Most existing whooping cough vaccines are whole-cell vaccines, combined with diphtheria and tetanus toxoid adsorbed on an aluminum or calcium carrier. As whole bacterial cells, they contain a complex array of at least 7 toxins and antigens, and display a narrow margin between potency and toxicity. The Japanese introduced an acellular vaccine, admittedly sometimes less potent, called the Precipitated Purified Pertussis Vaccine, in 1981. This material contains far less bacterial mass, notably less endotoxin, and consequently produces less fever, erythema and induration. WHO has not yet established minimum requirements for standardization; even the mouse potency assay may not be suitable. There are techniques, however, which will measure amounts of component antigens and toxicity. Conflicting results on assays of potency and immunogenicity will have to be resolved. Besides the obvious need for large clinical trials of defined vaccines, a whole range of research needs were suggested, from genetic studies of the organism to specific details of the host response. It is generally agreed that a less reactogenic and more effective pertussis vaccine is needed and feasible.