BSI's reaction to imperfect vaccines and virulence of viruses       

Research published in PLOS Biology on 27 July 2015 raised the possibility that vaccines which do not block transmission of their target virus to un-vaccinated hosts may encourage the evolution of more virulent pathogens. The researchers examined this scenario in chickens using the Marek’s disease virus, and reported that in this model this could indeed be the case. The BSI have issued the following statement from our President, Professor Peter Openshaw.  This quote has been included in reports by the Mirror, Press Association, The Times (£) and Washington Post.
Professor Peter Openshaw, President of the British Society for Immunology and Professor of Experimental Medicine at Imperial College London, said:
“The effects of innovations are hard to anticipate, and this is an example. Many viruses circulate widely and generally do little or no harm – swine flu being an example. However, some unlucky individuals are highly susceptible to disease, including the un-vaccinated. This article shows a new twist to this effect, whereby chickens vaccinated against Marek's disease might harbour and spread infection and yet not suffer from it. Clearly, vaccines that allow this to happen are not ideal and need to be improved so that they confer widespread benefits to the population as a whole via ‘herd immunity’. Fortunately, most vaccines don’t do this and just protect everyone, including those who are not actually vaccinated.
“It’s important not to interpret this study as an argument against vaccination of our children against flu or any other disease. The standard vaccines that are in current use are safe and effective, and not prone to cause the emergence of more dangerous strains of viruses. Vaccines are amongst the safest and most cost-effective measures that we have to improve public health and protect from disease and it is vital that we achieve high vaccination rates to prevent the return of the many and terrible diseases that they prevent.”

New UK accreditation scheme for adult allergy services

The British Society for Immunology welcomes the announcement by the Royal College of Physicians’ Accreditation Unit that they are launching a clinical service accreditation scheme for ‘Improving Quality in Allergy Services’ (IQAS).  This will be aimed at UK adult allergy services to provide a supportive quality improvement and accreditation pathway, and a robust quality assurance process.  This scheme will provide an important driver to ensure that all patients receive high quality, standardised care and the BSI is delighted to have supported it since its inception.
To prepare the community for this official launch, the RCP have published its IQAS clinical service accreditation and evidence requirements.

Journals Highlight - Immunology of IgG4-related disease

Clinical and radiological presentation of IgG4-related disease IgG4-RD
Immunoglobulin G4-related disease is a fibroinflammatory condition that derives its name from the characteristic finding of abundant IgG4+ plasma cells in affected tissues, as well as the presence of elevated serum IgG4 concentrations in many patients. In contrast to fibrotic disorders, such as systemic sclerosis or idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis in which the tissues fibrosis has remained largely intractable to treatment, many IgG4-RD patients appear to have a condition in which the collagen deposition is reversible.

In their article published in the August 2015 edition of Clinical and Experimental Immunology, Della-Torre, Lanzillotta and Doglioni review the most recent insights on the immunology of IgG4-RD, focusing on the relative contribution of innate and adaptive immune responses to the full pathological phenotype of this fibrotic condition. Clinical, histological and therapeutic features are also addressed.

Read the article in full.


The BSI has partnered with Sense About Science to produce a guide for the public called ‘Making Sense of Allergies’, with the aim of providing evidence-based information on what allergies are, how they are diagnosed and how they are treated.  The BSI has been concerned about the wealth of conflicting and unreliable information available on the internet providing people with confusing messages about the prevalence and seriousness of allergies, including many offering unproven allergy tests with no evidence base. 

You can download a copy of the guide for free at:

The British Society for Immunology (BSI) actively promotes and supports excellence in research, scholarship and clinical practice in Immunology for the benefit of human and animal health and welfare. It seeks to help British Immunology accomplish the highest possible goals.

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