Washington, DC (October 7, 2005) -- Vaccines have helped eradicate andtame some of history's worst infectious diseases, but there are manymore diseases out there that vaccines can help overcome. The challengessociety needs to confront to unlock the future promise of vaccinesagainst the plagues of the 21st century are the focus of a new reportby the American Academy of Microbiology.
"The success of vaccines in controlling disease has been profound. Manydiseases that formerly raged unchecked are now under control and othershave been eliminated in parts of the world. Despite this success,infectious diseases continue to be public health problems particularlyin developing countries where vaccines are unavailable, unaffordable,or both," says James Kaper of the University of Maryland School ofMedicine, co-author of the report, Vaccine Development: Current Statusand Future Needs.
The report is the outcome of a colloquium convened by the Academy inMarch 2005 to discuss vaccines, current infectious disease problems,the potential for new and better vaccines, vaccine safety, researchissues surrounding vaccines, education, and training topics. Experts invaccine research and development from academia, industry, andgovernment deliberated and determined several recommendations forfuture progress in creating and applying vaccines.
The report identifies over 40 infectious agents that pose significanthuman health problems in the United States or abroad, the mostsignificant of which is HIV. Of the infectious agents identified, only12 currently have effective vaccines. In addition, the report alsoidentifies a number of infectious agents that are relatively raretoday, but are poised to emerge by either natural or terrorism-relatedmeans, like avian influenza, West Nile virus, and botulism toxin.
According to the report, research and development must continue theprogress of the past to address those diseases that have eluded thedevelopment of effective vaccines, and existing vaccines must beimproved. The report also provides recommendations to overcomeobstacles that prevent the best use of existing vaccines.
"Vaccines are available for some diseases that continue to plaguehumans, but not for others. Even when a licensed vaccine is availablefor a given disease, numerous barriers can block its use, includingtechnical, economic, cultural, and legal obstacles," says Rino Rappuoliof Chiron SpA in Siena, Italy, another co-author of the report.
A full copy of the report and recommendations can be found on the Academy website at http://www.asm.org/Academy/index.asp?bid=2093.
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