World has huge unmet vaccine needs

While vaccines in some form or another have been used since the 16th century, there are still areas of unmet need. "The world still has no vaccine for HIV/AIDS and hepatitis C, and there's need for a better vaccine against influenza," as Australian Nobel Laureate Peter Doherty told The Times of India.

This is supported in this week's FierceVaccines. There's a lot of HIV vaccine news around at the moment, including two top stories from GeoVax and Inovio--but despite many years of research, there is still no approved therapeutic or prophylactic HIV vaccine. This is a huge area of unmet need--or indeed a huge market. According to the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS), at the end of 2010, nearly 30 million people had died from HIV-related causes, and roughly 34 million were living with HIV.

Another area of need--and also highlighted in this week's FierceVaccines in a story from Okairos--is preventive vaccines for hepatitis C infection. Much of the current research is in therapeutic vaccines, but helping prevent the disease in at-risk people will be more cost-effective than treating chronic infection, which is a leading cause of liver cancer.

Vaccine R&D is a growing field--every week I see more and more news coming in from all around the world, and research is growing in the developing as well as the developed world. I look forward to FierceVaccines continuing to celebrate this exciting area of research, and I look forward even more to the advent of the vaccines for HIV and hepatitis C. Next winter I will look forward to the influenza vaccine as well. -- Suzanne Elvidge (email)