Milan Milovanovic
(dob - )
Born in Yugoslavia
Years of Discovery: 1950s

MeaslesVaccineTeamHelped Develop the Measles Vaccine

The call to participate in groundbreaking scientific discovery is hard to resist. That was certainly the case for Milan Milovanovic, a young researcher at the Institute of Hygiene in Belgrade, Yugoslavia.  When given the chance to join John Ender's team to search for a measles vaccine, he took a leave of absence and headed for the United States. The team was working on isolating the measles virus, which they'd collected from the infected eleven-year-old son of a colleague. After they successfully isolated the virus, they began the arduous task of passaging the virus through human cells in the lab. Known as cell culture, it involves growing the virus in a broth with human cells.  As the virus grows and multiplies, the solution must be continually changed and split to allow for the new viruses growing.  This is known as a passage.  Their goal was to take the virus through enough passages to evolve as a weaker virus, such that it would trigger an immune system response that produced antibodies to fight measles, but without causing the actual disease. This pursuit became Milovanovic's full-time pursuit for the next three years. His tireless effort paid off. Testing conducted in 1958 proved the live-virus vaccine would neutralize the measles virus. 

Measles is caused by a virus and is one of the most contagious diseases known. The virus normally grows in the cells lining the back of the throat and those lining the lungs. The first sign of infection is a high fever lasting one to seven days. During this initial stage the patient may develop multiple symptoms, including a runny nose, cough, red and watery eyes, and small white spots inside the cheeks. A rash develops after several days, typically beginning on the face and upper neck, and then spreading to the hands and feet. Poorly nourished children are at an increased risk of contracting a severe case of measles, especially those who have a vitamin A deficiency or whose immune system is compromised. Childhood deaths are usually caused by the complications associated with measles. The most serious complications include blindness, encephalitis, severe diarrhea, ear infections and severe respiratory infections--such as pneumonia, which is the most common cause of death associated with measles.

In 2000 it was estimated that  6,000,000 people a year died from measles, mostly children.  Now in 2021 that number is down to 120,000, all due to measles vaccine.  About 85% of all the children in the world now receive a measles vaccination.  

Milovanovic returned to Yugoslavia (former) and continued his study of infectious disease. In the mid-1980s, while working at the Institute for Infectious and Tropical Diseases in Belgrade, Milovanovic turned his attention to the hepatitis B virus (HBV). As he had done with the measles vaccine, he patiently began the laboratory work of growing the vaccine in human cells. His was the first successful laboratory cultivation (in vitro)  and serial propagation of the HBV.

 
Written by science writer, Tim Anderson


Lives Saved:  Over 130,000,000 


Snippets
Before the introduction of measles vaccine in 1963 and widespread vaccination, major epidemics occurred approximately every 2–3 years and measles caused an estimated 2.6 million deaths each year.

More than 140 000 people died from measles in 2018 – mostly children under the age of 5 years.  Despite the availability of a safe and effective vaccine, a vaccine never reached their tiny arms.


Vaccines are Ubiquitous & Omnipresent Throughout Our Lives

It is bizarre that vaccines are controversial, when virtually everyone has had vaccines. The average person born today may get 70+ vaccines in their lifetime. 

  • There are 31 childhood vaccines (counting booster shots). Over 90% of people have received some of these vaccines.

Virtually everyone constantly benefits from vaccines

  • Did you know that all beef, poultry, and pork you eat comes from vaccinated animals?
  • And that all horses, dogs, cats, and zoo animals are vaccinated?
  • Who wants to live in a world where you can’t pet your friends’ dog because it may not have been vaccinated, and may have rabies?

Key Contributors
John Enders
Maurice Hilleman
Samuel Katz
Thomas Peebles
Anna Mitus
Kevin McCarthy
Ann Holloway
Milan Milovanovic


Links to More About the Scientist & the Science
Landmark Academic Paper
Measles Virus: A Summary of Experiments Concerned with Isolation, Properties and Behavior. American Journal of Public Health, Vol47, No. 3, March1957. John Enders, Thomas Peebles, Kevin McCarthy, Milan Milovanovic, Anna Mitus, and Ann Holloway
https://ajph.aphapublications.org/doi/pdf/10.2105/AJPH.47.3.275