Michiaki Takahashi- The Brain Behind Chickenpox Vaccine

Michiaki Takahashi, was a Japanese virologist, born on 17 February 1928 in Osaka, Japan. That name might not sound familiar, but you owe him a thank you if you’ve never had chickenpox. After studying measles and polio, Takahashi accepted a research fellowship in 1963 at Baylor College in the United States. He turned his focus to chickenpox after his son developed a serious bout of the highly transmissible virus. He returned to Japan in 1965 to do more research, and in five years the vaccine was ready for clinical trials. In 1974, Takahashi had developed the first vaccine targeting the varicella virus that causes chickenpox.

Professor Takahashi developed a vaccine isolated from the vesicles of a typical case of chicken pox in a 3-year-old Japanese boy. Named Oka after the boy, the vaccine was developed to prevent chicken pox in a process which is strictly adhered to the standard of the World Health Organisation. The vaccine was widely accepted and used extensively in Japan, Korea, USA, France, as well as Thailand. People who receive this vaccine develop chicken pox with less fever and no scar, and they recover in a quickly manner. As they grow older, children who have received the vaccination will experience less severe cases of herpes zoster than those who did not receive vaccination. In adults aged greater than 60, the vaccine is shown to prevent the development of herpes zoster, as well as to reduce its side conditions and to limit the spread of the disease.

Professor Takahashi’s discovery of the varicella vaccine led to the worldwide use of the vaccine to prevent chicken pox. The vaccine helps relieve blood and mental pain of the patients as well as reduce the death rate of patients with chicken pox, particularly millions of children from all over the world. In 1994, Dr. Takahashi was appointed the director of the Microbial Disease study Group at Osaka University. He held this position until retirement. Takahashi’s vaccine is now used in more than 80 countries preventing millions of cases of chickenpox each year.