Franciscan missionary Giovanni Di Plano Carpini traveled in 1245 to a country named Yeke Tartar, to visit a certain man called Genghis Khan. His journeys report narrated peculiar dietary habits of the locals: “they eat anything, even lice”. Little that Carpini knew, he had actually documented the earliest known to us record of oral vaccination against blood-borne infections – an approach that is still used occasionally in the present-day Mongolia for therapy of hepatitis. Currently, efforts aimed at developing therapeutic hepatitis vaccines have switched to more palatable path, but we may still benefit from the insight of medieval Mongols. This review provides an update on development of hepatitis B and C vaccines as related to immunotherapy of hepatitis. Immune therapy is a fast-moving field but the results so far failed to pitch woo. Current trends in research on therapeutic vaccine candidates and liver immunology are discussed. We subscribe to the idea that viral hepatitis is essentially an autoimmune disease generating immune-mediated liver damage. Therapeutic vaccines need to be designed in such a way that self-destructive immunity of the host is targeted not the virus, which is not cytopathic.
Keywords: Therapeutic Vaccines, Hepatitis, lice, oral vaccination, immunotherapy
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