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)