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Porter Anderson
(dob - dod)
Born in the United States
Year of Discovery: 1969

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Image Courtesy: Lasker Foundation


US Hib Disease Plummets After His Vaccine Hits the Market


Porter Anderson is a microbiologist and a pediatrician.  As a doctor, he saw many young children (usually under the age of five) that were affected by a disease known as Hib.  It is named that after the bacteria that causes it – Haemophilus influenzae type b.  Usually, it causes meningitis, an infection of the covering of the brain and spinal cord – the meninges.  While most children in the industrialized world recovered, up to 45% were left with other problems such as deafness, brain damage, lack of coordination, and epilepsy (recurring seizures).  Knowing how devastating the disease could be even after surviving it, Anderson and his colleague, David Smith, set out on a fifteen  year pursuit of a vaccine that would prevent the disease and all the problems that accompanied it.  Since its successful development and implementation, the incidence of Hib disease in the United States has fallen by a remarkable 99 percent.

Hib is an invasive bacteria. It primarily affects children because they lack the natural antibodies (a molecule people develop to fight a specific disease) that adults and older children have to fight it.  It is thought to be an airborne disease, spread through droplets expelled during coughing and sneezing.  The most common result of Hib is meningitis, but it can also cause epiglottitis - a swelling of the epiglottis, the flap of tissue that sits at the base of tongue and keeps food from going into the windpipe.  If it swells too much, it can cut off air and the patient can suffocate.  More rarely, it can also cause arthritis.  Of the children affected, most of them are under one – babies really.  In 1980, prior to the introduction of the Hib vaccine, there were 20,000 cases reported in the United States.  Today, it has been virtually eradicated in the U.S. with only 341 cases reported between 1996 and 2000.  Unfortunately, due to the lack of widespread vaccination, Hib continues to be a scourge in other areas of the world. It's estimated that Hib accounts for the death of 400,000 children worldwide annually.

Anderson's colleague, David Smith, had been challenged to "try to find a vaccine to prevent this terrible disease (of meningitis)" by a Harvard professor. It's a challenge he took to heart - and so did Anderson. Their early partnership set in motion a 15-year journey of discovery. Anderson and Smith's work built on earlier discoveries that many bacteria have a protective coat made up of chains of sugar molecules known as polysaccharides. It's these protective coats the immune system attacks. Early results with lab animals, however, were unsatisfactory. So, Anderson and Smith did what many great scientists have done - they became the first human test subjects of their own vaccine. This worked. The pair developed antibodies to Hib in their bloodstream, and this success laid the groundwork for future trials. The first large-scale trial took place in Finland in 1975, and involved 100,000 children. The results were promising, but not perfect. Children older than 18 months received immunity, but those under 18 months did not. This led the pair to develop a second vaccine specifically for use in young infants. Anderson and Smith developed a "conjugate" vaccine to fight against Hib in these infants. A conjugate vaccine joins two substances into a single potion. In this case Anderson combined the polysaccharides from the Hib bacteria with a protein from a second bacteria. It was this introduction of the larger protein that allowed the immune systems of the young infants to recognize the bacteria and to produce antibodies against Hib. The first vaccine, for older children and adults, was approved for use in 1987. The second, for use with younger infants, was approved in 1990. Anderson and Smith's persistence over the years has paid tremendous dividends, saving tens of thousands of young lives and preventing lifelong disability for many more.

Anderson provided the initial funding to establish the Anderson-Rogers Foundation, Inc., in honor of the ancestors of the two families. The foundation funds a variety of social and environmental causes. The funding Anderson provided came from the wealth he obtained as co-inventor of the Hib vaccine - a wealth brought to him, he said, "too late in life to enjoy squandering it."

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Introduction by Tim Anderson

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Bookcoverjacket


Table of Contents

Introduction
Links to More Information About the Scientist
Key Insight
Key Experiment or Research
Key Contributors
Quotes by the Scientist
Quotes About the Scientist
Anecdotes
Fun Trivia About The Science
The Science Behind the Discovery
Personal Information
Science Discovery Timeline
Recommended Books About the Science
Books by the Scientist
Books About the Scientist
Awards
Major Academic Papers
Curriculum Vitae
Links to Science and Related Information on the Subject
Sources

 








Links to More About the Scientist & the Science

University of Rochester Medical Center news archive:

Porter Anderson mini-biography, Chaperone Technologies:

Lasker Foundation Award Summary:

The Anderson-Rogers Foundation, Inc:





Sliders & Images here




Image Flow Here




Key Insight




Key Experiments or Research

 



Key Contributors

The Team
Explore other scientists who furthered this lifesaving advance.
Lifesavers: Hib Disease Vaccine
(Haemophilus influenza
type b)
David Smith
Hib disease in the U.S. has declined by 99 percent since the introduction of his Hib vaccine.
John Robbins
Made the breakthrough discovery that allowed the Hib vaccine to protect children under 18 months.
Rachel Schneerson
Made the breakthrough discovery that allowed the Hib vaccine to protect children under 18 months.






Quotes by the Scientist




Quotes About the Scientist




Anecdotes




Fun Trivia About the Science




The Science Behind the Discovery



Personal Information



Scientific Discovery Timeline




Recommended Books About the Science




Books by the Scientist




Books About the Scientist

 



Awards




Major Academic Papers Written by the Scientist



Curriculum Vitae



Links to Information on the Science





Sources/References




 

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