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World Health Day 2023: beyond immunogenicity and how it articulates around health

Updated: Apr 13

World Health Day 2023, by celebrating the 75th anniversary of the creation of the World Health Organization, is all about remembering the improvement operated in public health for the last seven decades, making it a great day to highlight immunogenicity and its influence within health nowadays.

Since the creation of the World Health Organization in 1948, many important discoveries have been made, from antibiotics to specific vaccines but also through regulations and definitions of different kinds of health. As part of the medication spectrum (which contains for example drugs dealing with pain or specific symptoms), a special parameter is essential within researches regarding the immune system and its activation: immunogenicity.

What is immunogenicity?

Theoretically speaking, immunogenicity is the ability of a substance to provoke an immune response within the body in which it was administered. If the immune system was envisioned figuratively as an army fighting against illnesses, an immunogenic substance would release and coordinate the answers provided to the threats.

This principle is at the basis of the development of vaccines, which work by introducing a weakened or inactive form of the pathogen, a threatening element, into the body, allowing the immune system to recognize and respond to it. The immune system then produces memory cells that "remember" the pathogen and can quickly mount a defense if the individual is exposed to the actual pathogen in the future.

It is important to highlight that immunogenicity is a principle whose effects depend on every individual: reactions of the immune system to a threat will vary according to various factors and not protect everyone the same way.

How is it useful in the health landscape?

In addition to vaccine development, which is useful to strenghten healthy people's immunity, immunogenicity is also important in the development of biologics, such as gene therapies, which help to improve immunity of people with an illness. These treatments work by targeting specific molecules in the body, and their effectiveness depends on the ability of the immune system to recognize and attack these molecules.

Through its leading position in biotechnologies, Belgium is a fertile landscape for the research and development around vaccines and therapies, and therefore for a better acknowledgment of immunogenicity. However, as for the World Health Organization, immunogenic principle is not a purpose in practice, contrary to the patient safety which is at the heart of the pharmaceutical industry as a whole, making "Primum non nocere" our most important motto.


Discover more about this day and the timeline of the World Health Organization on their official page:

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