Introduction: Three major advances have led to increase in length and quality of human life:increased food production, improved sanitation and induction of specific adaptive immune responses to infectious agents (vaccination). Which has had the most impact is subject to debate.The number and variety of infections agents and the mechanisms that they have evolved to allow them to colonize humans remained mysterious and confusing until the last 50 years. Since then science has developed complex and largely successful ways to immunize against many of these infections.
Areas covered: Six specific immune defense mechanisms have been identified. neutralization, cytolytic, immune complex, anaphylactic, T-cytotoxicity, and delayed hypersensitivity. The role of each of these immune effector mechanisms in immune responses induced by vaccination against specific infectious agents is the subject of this review.
Expert opinion: In the past development of specific vaccines for infections agents was largely by trial and error. With an understanding of the natural history of an infection and the effective immune response to it, one can select the method of vaccination that will elicit the appropriate immune effector mechanisms (designer vaccines). These may act to prevent infection (prevention) or eliminate an established on ongoing infection (therapeutic).
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The recent movement toward returning individual research results to study subjects/participants generates ethical and legal challenges for laboratories performing research on human biospecimens. The concept of an individual’s interest in knowing the results of testing on their tissue is pitted against individual and systemic risks and an established legal framework regulating the performance of laboratory testing for medical care purposes. This article discusses the rationale for returning individual research results to subjects, the potential risks associated with returning these results, and the legal framework in the United States that governs testing of identifiable human biospecimens. On the basis of these considerations, this article provides recommendations for investigators to consider when planning and executing human biospecimen research, with the objective of appropriately balancing the interests of research subjects, the need for ensuring integrity of the research process, and compliance with US laws and regulations.