The Takahashi vaccine has proven to be an effective measure to prevent severe cases of the viral disease and its transmission, even as the world grapples with another viral pandemic.
Doctor. Takahashi was born on February 17, 1928 in Osaka, Japan. After receiving his medical degree from Osaka, he entered the University of Bacterial Disease Research Institute in 1954. He studied at the university and completed his graduate degree in medical sciences in 1959, specializing in poxvirus virology.
In 1963, Dr. Takahashi received a research grant from Baylor College in the United States, where he studied measles and polio viruses. But he turned his expertise to fighting highly contagious chickenpox after his eldest son, Teruyuki, suffered a severe bout of the disease.
Doctor. Takahashi returned to Japan in 1965 and began developing a vaccine against the disease by growing live but attenuated chickenpox viruses in animals and humans. The vaccine wasn’t ready for clinical trials until five years later. Finally, in 1974, the first vaccine targeting the varicella virus that causes chickenpox was developed, and it was proven to be highly effective after extensive research on immunosuppressed patients.
The only WHO-approved varicella vaccine was launched in 1984 by the Research Foundation for Microbial Diseases of Japan in 1986. The Japanese Ministry of Health and Welfare has also approved its worldwide use. The life-saving vaccine was soon introduced in more than 80 countries.
Doctor. Takahashi moved to the position of Director of the Microbial Disease Study Group at Osaka University in 1994 and held that position until his retirement. After his retirement he was awarded the title of Professor Emeritus.
He died of a heart attack on December 16, 2013 at the age of 85.
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