Pentacel vaccine

On June 26, 2008 the ACIP recommended adding  Pentacel vaccine to the immunization schedule for children. Pentacel is a combination vaccine of Diptheria, Petrussis, Tetanus (DTaP), HiB and Polio. It is the first DTaP-based combination vaccine that also includes polio and HiB vaccine components.

There are similar five-in-one vaccines such as Pediarix and Pediacel. However, controversy has arisen over the use of the Pentacel vaccine, because the polio portion of this vaccine is grown on the MRC-5 cell line – derived from human fetuses.

England’s J.P Jacobs for the Medical Resource Council created this cell line in 1966. It was derived from the fifth subject of the study: the normal lung tissue of a 14-week-old male fetus who was electively aborted by a 27-year-old woman. It parallels research conducted by Leonard Hayflick, Ph. D., who developed the WI-38 cell line in 1962 at Philadelphia’s University of Pennsylvania Wistar Institute. That cell line came from the 38th research subject – lung tissue taken from an electively aborted fetus of almost three months gestation from Sweden. WI-38 is used to manufacture vaccines for Poliomyelitis, Rubella, Vermicelli, Mumps, Rabies, adenoviruses and Hepatitis A.

Vaccines for shingles and the chicken pox also make use of aborted fetal cells. Although the vaccines themselves do not contain cells or tissues, they are grown on cells. For example, Hepatitis B is grown on fungal yeast cells. And the polio vaccine, in addition to being grown on aborted-fetal cells, is grown on monkey kidney cells.

Paul Offit, chief of infectious diseases at The Children’s Hospital in Philadelphia, said the use of monkey kidney cells in the past to grow the polio vaccine risked exposure to the Simian vacuolating virus 40 (SV40). This virus has the potential to cause tumors and is found in both monkeys and humans. SV40 virus concerns surfaced with the live, oral polio vaccine, which no longer is used in the United States.

GlaxoSmithKline makes Pediarix, one alternative to Pentacel, in which the poliovirus is grown on monkey kidney cells. In this case, the three strains of the inactivated poliovirus component of Pediarix are individually grown in VERO cells, a continuous line of monkey kidney cells. Since the poliovirus is inactivated and the vaccine is ministered via shot, the risk of SV40 is eliminated.

Pediarix includes the same ingredients that Pentacel has except HiB. Pediarix protects against Hepatitis B, a virus that Pentacel leaves recipients vulnerable to. Consequently, Pentacel recipients need separate shots for Hepatitis B, and Pediarix receivers need separate shots of HiB.

Pediarix is a three-dose series with one shot at each of the two, four and six-month immunization visits. Pentacel is a four-dose series to be given at two, four, six and at 15-18 months of age.

“With Pediarix, an extra shot of Hepatitis B is needed for those infants who have received the birth-dose and, unlike Pentacel, there is no reduction in the number of shots administered in the second year of life because Pediarix is only licensed for a three-dose series at two, four and six months of age,” she said.

While Pentacel offers a reduced number of shots for children in the U.S., compared with Pediarix or Pediacel, a European vaccine identical to Pentacel, which does not use aborted fetal cells. Canadian Physicians for Life lobbied for this vaccine last year when they were unable to find an available five-in-one option in Canada, which they found morally acceptable. It is possible to create a vaccine identical to Pentacel without any ethical controversies, and Pediarix, currently available in the U.S., does so without using fetal cell lines.

With time and money it is possible to create alternative cell lines for various vaccines that use aborted fetal cells. Mr. Furton said an additional “problematic connection” exists between using aborted fetal cells and embryonic stem cell research. “The cultural mindset in the scientific community is that it’s okay to use aborted fetuses for research purposes,” he said referencing the use of aborted fetal cell lines in vaccines. This mindset leads to what he called an unethical and increasing acceptance by the scientific community of using embryonic stem cells for research.

                                          Source:The Evening Bulletin