See Inside October 2009

Boosting Vaccines: The Power of Adjuvants

Modern insights into the immune system have revived interest in adding ingredients that can supercharge old vaccines and make entirely new ones possible

Amy Guip

The thought of birth defects caused by rubella, rows of iron lungs housing children crippled by polio, or the horrific sound of a baby struggling with whooping cough can still evoke dread among people who have seen firsthand the damage inflicted by these and other vaccine-preventable diseases. Fortunately, those scourges are virtually unknown to modern generations that have had access to vaccines all their lives.

For more than 200 years vaccines have proved to be one of the most successful, lifesaving and economical methods of preventing infectious disease, second only to the sanitization of water. Vaccines have spared millions of people from early death or crippling illnesses and made the global eradication of smallpox in 1979 possible. Health experts now pledge to eliminate polio, measles and perhaps one day even malaria—although, as we shall see, a malaria vaccine will require novel approaches to immunization to be successful.

This is only a preview. Get the rest of this article now!

Select an option below:

Customer Sign In

*You must have purchased this issue or have a qualifying subscription to access this content

It has been identified that the institution you are trying to access this article from has institutional site license access to Scientific American on
Click here to access this article in its entirety through site license access.

Rights & Permissions
Share this Article:


You must sign in or register as a member to submit a comment.
Scientific American Holiday Sale

Scientific American Mind Digital

Get 6 bi-monthly digital issues
+ 1yr of archive access for just $9.99

Hurry this offer ends soon! >


Email this Article


Next Article