When was the diphtheria vaccine born?

When was the diphtheria vaccine born?

When was the diphtheria vaccine born?

IMPORTANT NOTE: Corvelva invites you to get in-depth information by reading all the sections and links, as well as the manufacturer's product leaflets and technical data sheets, and to speak with one or more trusted professionals before deciding to vaccinate yourself or your child. This information is for informational purposes only and is not intended as medical advice.

One of the first diphtheria treatments was an equine-derived antitoxin developed in the 1890s. This antitoxin was made by injecting diphtheria toxin into horses to produce an antibody response. Blood was then drawn from the horses and the antitoxin serum was separated and purified for use in humans. The HK Mulford Company of Philadelphia was the first US company to develop diphtheria antitoxin for commercial use.(1)
The diphtheria antitoxin, however, produced only short-term immunity and in some individuals the injections caused fever, rash, joint pain and anaphylaxis. This adverse reaction was referred to as "serum sickness" and occurred in people receiving multiple doses of the antitoxin. In 1913, Dr. Bela Schick introduced the Schick test, a procedure that involved injecting a small amount of diphtheria toxin in solution into the arm to determine the need for the antitoxin. If redness occurred at the injection site, the use of the antitoxin was indicated.(2)

The first diphtheria vaccine was developed by William Park of the New York City Department of Health. Park combined diphtheria antitoxin with diphtheria toxin and this combination was able to trigger an antibody response. The use of this product, however, was questioned in the medical literature of the time due to reports of failures and damage. Serious side effects include serum sickness, anaphylaxis and even death.(3-4)

In 1923, two independent researchers, Gaston Ramon and Alexander Thomas Glenny, developed a method to inactivate diphtheria toxin. This product, known as diphtheria toxoid (DAT), was considered inferior to toxin-antitoxin (TAT) because it did not produce a strong immune response.(5) Ramon also discovered that the use of formalin could decrease the toxic properties of diphtheria toxoid while maintaining its immunogenicity.(6) In 1926, Glenny and his colleagues discovered that adding diphtheria antigen to alum (potassium aluminum sulfate) would enhance the immune response.(7)

In the mid-40s, diphtheria toxoid was combined with tetanus toxoid to create the tetanus-diphtheria toxoid (Td) vaccine and, furthermore, was combined with whole-cell pertussis to create the diphtheria-tetanus-pertussis (DTP) vaccine ).(8) The new DTP combination vaccine was later taken up by aluminum salts when researchers discovered aluminum's ability to boost blood immune responses to both diphtheria and tetanus.(9) In the mid-40s a number of companies held licenses for tetanus toxoid vaccines, however licensing was not indicative of product approval. Safety, purity, and potency (if potency tests were available) were tested as part of licensing approval, but product potency was not and was not required for product licensing. Among the companies that held licenses for the tetanus toxoid vaccine in 1945 were Parke Davis and Co., Sharp and Dohme, Cutter Laboratories, Lederle Laboratories, and others.(10)

This article is summarized and translated by National Vaccine Information Center.

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