Vaccines: Broadening their Scope

Vaccines: Broadening their Scope

04.20.12 | By Preet Bilinski

When most of us think of vaccines, we probably think of the vaccinations we received as children, the ones that left our arms sore, even days later. Vaccines have been used to successfully prevent diseases such as smallpox, measles, polio and other infectious diseases, for many years. But vaccines are not only for preventing infectious diseases;newer vaccines are providing protections against a wide array of other diseases, including cancer prevention.

Evolving science has increasingly enabled researchers to explore both promising therapeutic vaccines and new preventative agents for infectious diseases. Although the development process is extremely complex, advances in other scientific fields, such as genomics, are being leveraged in the development of new vaccines.

A recent article in FierceVaccines talks about a personalized brain cancer vaccine that improves survival. According to the article, "Glioblastoma multiforme (GBM) is the most common and most aggressive of the brain cancers known as gliomas. The cancer is very difficult to treat and most patients die within a year." Clinical data showed patients given the vaccine were living significantly longer, which offers hope to patients not only with this cancer, but other cancer patients as well. Of course, this still has to be confirmed with extensive clinical testing, but the possibility is there.

America's biopharmaceutical research companies are developing nearly 300 vaccines for the prevention and treatment of a wide variety of diseases. The vaccines in development include 170 for infectious diseases, 102 for cancers and eight for neurological disorders. Vaccines have contributed to saving countless lives around the world, and vaccines currently in the pipeline offer hope of the same success.

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