Course Notes & other materials

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News & information

Unit 11 notes updated, 2017
Unit 12 notes updated, 2017
Supplements updated, 2016
Visible MHC upgraded 9/2015

There will be a practice midterm test available on the Week 7 page.

We're in Ed2 N 2301.


August 2016: According to a physician survey by Medscape, parents in the US became markedly more accepting of vaccines between 2015 and 2016. Most of their reasons for the change seem to be practical, not ideological.


June 2016: The Food and Drug Administration approved Vaxchora, the first single-dose oral cholera vaccine “for adults ages 18 to 64 who are traveling to countries affected by cholera.” The FDA’s decision was “based on four clinical trials enrolling nearly 3,800 patients.” During clinical trials, “the vaccine was 90% effective against challenge 10 days after dosing and 80% effective for participants challenged at 3 months.” It’s an attenuated live bacterial vaccine.


April 2016: WHO announced that the entire world's supply of oral polio vaccine will be replaced within 2 weeks by a new product that contains only Type 1 and Type 3 strains (Type 2 was eradicated in 1999). The new vaccine will reduce the chances of vaccine-derived paralytic polio. This is good news, and just as good are the statistics: In 2015 there were only 74 cases of wild-type polio reported (and 32 cases of paralysis due to vaccine strains, almost all of them Type 2). So far in 2016 only 9 cases are reported. All cases in 2015 and 2016 were in Afghanistan and Pakistan.


September 2015: The CDC reports that this year’s influenza vaccine may be more effective than last year’s. “Last year, the vaccine was only 23 percent effective because the predominant strain mutated after the vaccine had already been manufactured...this year’s flu vaccine is well-matched right now to circulating viruses.”


August 2015: Muthumani et al. report the development of a synthetic DNA vaccine against Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV) that induces neutralizing antibodies in mice, macaques, and camels—natural hosts of MERS-CoV. Indeed, macaques vaccinated with this DNA vaccine were protected from viral challenge. These promising results support further development of DNA vaccines for emerging infections.


April 2014: The Carter Center and WHO report that there were only 126 cases of Guinea worm (dracunculiasis) left in the world, mostly in South Sudan. It's spread by drinking unfiltered water and lack of knowledge about transmission, but that's nearly over now. In 1986 there were an estimated 3.5 million cases.


Have you heard of the chicken pox lollipop scandal?


WEEK 6: 4 October

Unit 11: Immunogenetics & Transplantation Download the PDF

Unit 12: Immunity & Vaccines Download the PDF

Supplemental views of MHC (and TCR) structure: Visible MHC (PDF) Updated 28 September 2017 with the image of hands binding an apple in a bowl, to help visualize the way the TCR works.

Reading recommendation: A very good book on the risks caused to everyone's health by people who argue that immunization is unnecessary or dangerous is Deadly Choices: How the anti-vaccine movement threatens us all. Paul A. Offit, MD. Basic Books, New York, 2011.

Supplemental material (optional): Balto brings the serum to Nome The dog that led the sled team that brought diphtheria antiserum to Nome, Alaska, saving some kids' lives. His long run is commemorated by the Iditarod dog sled race every year.

Supplemental material (optional): What not to do when there's a rabid bat! MMWR tells about a parent who brought a dead bat to school, and the panic that ensued when it was found to have died of rabies. The CDC arrived, but curiously, the schoolkids' parents trusted the opinions of their family docs (who probably knew nothing about rabies) more than they did the experts. A cool quick review of rabies prophylaxis.

Supplemental material (optional): Hydrophobia Robert Burton, a doctor and cleric at Oxford, wrote The Anatomy of Melancholy in 1628. Here is his short section on hydrophobia, as rabies was then called. It's amazingly accurate and overwhelmingly learned, and fun to read.

And if you wanna break from studying, here's 2:54 of indie Brit postpunk revival from The Vaccines.