April 20, 2012
According to a 2007 study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), there has been a greater than 90 percent decrease in incidence of nine infectious diseases, including smallpox and measles, for which vaccines have been recommended for decades. Reduction in mortality and morbidity by vaccination means fewer doctor’s visits and hospitalizations, which translates into healthcare cost savings, as well as fewer lost days at work, leading to improved productivity.
America’s biopharmaceutical research companies are developing nearly 300 vaccines for the prevention and treatment of a wide variety of diseases, according to a new report by the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA). The vaccines – all either currently being tested in clinical trials or under review by the Food and Drug Administration – include 170 for infectious diseases, 102 for cancers and eight for neurological disorders.
Vaccines currently in development include:
- A genetically-modified vaccine for the treatment of pancreatic cancer.
- A therapeutic vaccine that increases the immune response against the HIV virus.
- A vaccine that protects infants against meningococcal disease, a leading cause of meningitis.
- An immunotherapeutic vaccine for the treatment of Alzheimer's disease.
- A recombinant vaccine to prevent malaria.
Building on the tremendous progress in helping to control infectious diseases that were once common in the United States, such as polio, diphtheria, pertussis (whooping cough), rubella (German measles), mumps, and tetanus, newer vaccines are providing protections against a wide array of other diseases, including cancer. For example, two years ago the first vaccine to protect against four types of human papillomavirus (HPV) was approved. HPV can lead to cervical and other cancers.
Selected Vaccines in Development
Alzheimer's Disease – An immunotherapeutic amyloid-beta (Aß) peptide conjugate vaccine is in development for the treatment of Alzheimer’s disease. The vaccine therapy stimulates the body to produce antibodies to amyloid-beta protein and remove it from the brain. It is a second-generation vaccine-based therapy for Alzheimer’s disease. A second vaccine in development for the treatment of Alzheimer's disease uses a specific adjuvant that is expected to improve the vaccine by producing more potent and durable immune responses against certain Alzheimer’s disease antigens.
Cervical Cancer – A live, attenuated Listeria monocytogenes (LM)-based vaccine is in development for the treatment of women who already have cervical cancer as a result of infection by the human papillomavirus (HPV). The vaccine targets the HPV gene E7, which is responsible for the transformation of infected cells into dysplastic or malignant tissue.
HIV Infection – A therapeutic vaccine in development is targeting the low-mutating (conserved) parts from the protein p24 of the HIV virus. The vaccine consists of four peptides that are modified to increase the immune response against the conserved parts of the p24 protein. A sustained immune response against the p24 protein has shown to be associated with delayed disease progression.
Influenza – A monoclonal antibody (mAb) vaccine in development targets both pandemic and severe seasonal influenza A virus infections. The mAb vaccine, made from recombinant human antibodies from human B-cell cultures specifically targets the M2.
Pancreatic Cancer – A vaccine in development for the treatment of pancreatic cancer uses allogeneic pancreatic cancer cells that are genetically-modified to secrete the immune-stimulant, granulocyte-macrophage colony stimulating factor (GM-CSF). The cells are irradiated to prevent further cell growth although they stay metabolically active. In clinical trials, the vaccine in combination therapy has shown to increase one-year survival from 7 percent to 27 percent.
Smoking Cessation – One in a new class of targeted vaccines in development induces an antigen-specific immune activation for smoking cessation and relapse prevention. It is made from biocompatible and biodegradable materials and is a fully synthetic nanoparticle vaccine engineered to mimic the properties of natural pathogens to elicit an immune response.