Vaccine Update: New Technologies And Manufacturing Platforms Expand Protections
By Paul Di Filippo, JHP Pharmaceuticals
Vaccines constitute a deeply explored and thoroughly tested technology that is now over 200 years old, dating from Edward Jenner’s first experiments with cowpox and smallpox during the 1790s. The benefits conferred by vaccines of all sorts are so extensive and numerous that a recent popular-science article on the topic felt justified in using the headline How Vaccines Saved the World.2 Yet the technology is not without its critics, however ultimately unsustainable their objections are. The public has witnessed a long-running debate about a possible connection between childhood vaccinations and autism and a fresher controversy about the utility and social consequences of the HPV (Human Papilloma Virus) vaccine program. Nonetheless, the subject of new vaccines, their role in public health crises and innovative methods of production remains endlessly fascinating for the public, as testified to by the success of the recent film Contagion. Dr. Paul Offit of the Vaccine Education Center of the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, says that in this scientifically respectable film, which chronicles an epidemic and the response of government and medical establishment, “The heroes of the story are vaccines."
Outside movie theaters, there are two main aspects to the current story of vaccines. First comes the eternal search for new vaccines that can either protect against heretofore untreatable ailments or improve upon the immunity given by predecessor vaccines. New methodologies for bottom-up vaccine design also figure into this search. And second comes the quest for new and better methods of vaccine production.