During a three-day international conference on environmental parasitology and community healthcare initiatives that ended here earlier this week, E.P. Cohen of the University of Illinois, US presented his research paper on why cancer vaccines don't work and what can be done about it.
Raising hopes for a complete cure of cancer, he told experts about the recent novel discovery of DNA-based vaccines for the disease. Cohen detailed a unique technique that enables tumour vaccines to be prepared from DNA derived from small amounts of tumour tissue facilitating treatment when the disease is still microscopic and the cancer is most amenable to immune-based therapy. Extensive pre-clinical studies in animals have established the validity of this approach.
The scientists also discussed the global emergence of mosquito-borne viruses. Laura D. Kramer of the New York state department of health said: "Infectious diseases spread rapidly across territories that were once considered geographic boundaries. This makes the need for global surveillance for and basic research on emerging infections critical to global public health."
The 75 delegates at the conference expressed concern over the outbreak of four major arboviral diseases, which have taken epidemic proportions. These included dengue, chikungunya, Japanese encephalitis and kyasanur forest disease. These vector-borne diseases have been present in India for many years in an endemic form.
G. Geevarghese of the National Institute of Virology said that due to certain environmental changes, these diseases had assumed epidemic proportions in many Indian states.
Conference members said increasing use of plastics had aided the proliferation of these diseases as mosquitoes use plastic containers as breeding grounds. Speakers said the recommendations emerging from the conference would go a long way in formulating a comprehensive community healthcare system, one that integrated not only scientific information but also ancient wisdom.