Is Haemophilus influenzae Type b Disease Finished?
Haemophilus influenzae type b (Hib) has been the subject of much pioneering biomedical research. An important pathogen of childhood, it was one of the second bacteria demonstrated to be naturally transformable, the source for the identification and isolation of the first restriction endonuclease (Hindll), the target of the first glycoconjugate vaccine, and the first free living organism for which there was a complete genome sequence. In countries where Hib glyco-conjugate vaccines have been introduced into the routine infant immunization schedule, Hib has been eliminated as a major source of childhood disease. The success of this vaccine may appear to signal the end of the Hib era. Despite this success, there remain large areas of ignorance about the basic immunobiology of conjugate vaccines. Accumulating experience with Hib conjugates has emphasized that these areas of uncertainty not only have practical significance for Hib but offer important insights into vaccine biology in general. Far from being “finished,” the fact that Hib was the first organism for which conjugate vaccines were available has placed it in the forefront of research into basic vaccine immunology. Such research will continue to cast light on the fundamental mechanisms of the human immune system and will inform the search for future vaccines against other pathogens.
KeywordsHaemophilus Influenzae Conjugate Vaccine Capsular Polysaccharide Neisseria Meningitidis Routine Immunization
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