One of the best protections we have against viral infections is the vaccine. New Vaccines help the body’s immune system to combat an incoming infection. They have been credited with the near-eradication of polio and the widespread eradication of smallpox.
There have been many significant advances to vaccines since their inception in the 1700s. However, there are still several diseases for which no vaccine is found yet.
Scientists are finding new ways to use the immune-system-triggering effects of new vaccines to manage unexpected diseases, such as drug addiction and cancer.
To get approved, vaccines have to show that they are both effective and safe at preventing diseases or if they are used therapeutically – at triggering the immune system to go after existing conditions. This process can take years or even decades.
Listed below are nine new vaccines in development that could dramatically change how people live.
There are already some vaccines that provide protection against certain types of cancer. The vaccine against HPV (human papillomavirus), by way of instance, can provide protection against six distinct sorts of cancer.
Another vaccine for hepatitis B helps to prevent liver cancer, as well. There’s a push to use vaccines once a person has been diagnosed with cancer.
One such remedy was approved for prostate cancer in 2010. The therapy reprograms the body’s immune system to go after a specific protein that enables the immune cells to attack the cancer cells.
Other new vaccines could take a more customized approach, pinpointing cancer mutations, and strengthening the body’s immune system to fight certain kinds of cancer cells.
An Ebola vaccine was proven to offer reliable protection against the disease. In a large trial of nearly 6,000 people, Merck revealed its vaccine was 100% successful. It’s supposed to be a temporary fix to stop evolving outbreaks from getting to the level of the outbreak that occurred between 2014 and 2016, which means it isn’t in use just yet.
Should another disorder arise, public health organizations could determine whether they would like to use it. Researchers are working on a longer-lasting option.
A double-blind trial of 75 healthy volunteers decided that the vaccine produced an immune response for a whole year in 100 percent of the patients. A larger-scale trial will have to determine if the longer-lasting vaccine is useful at preventing the disease.
Gonorrhea, a sexually transmitted infection is generally treated with antibiotics. But in the last couple of years, it has become untreatable sometimes.
In addition to new antibiotics that could combat the disease, the World Health Organization is calling for a vaccine. There is at least one in development.
But in an unexpected turn of events, researchers looking at data on a meningitis epidemic and following vaccination effort in New Zealand discovered that the vaccine protected against gonorrhea also. As it happens, the bacteria that cause gonorrhea and meningitis are very closely related.
The vaccine used to target this meningitis disorder was administered from 2004 to 2006 and is no longer in use. It persists to be seen whether a person will develop it as a vaccine for gonorrhea alone.
4. Heroin Addiction
There are two vaccines in use to manage opioid addictions, neither of which have made it into human trials yet.
“A vaccine could work by destroying heroin that is injected into the body until it gets an opportunity to get into the brain and give victims a high,” Roger Crystal, Opiant CEO, whose firm is developing the possible vaccines.
That could help people recover addicted to heroin. It remains to be seen how frequently the vaccines would have to be given.
The HIV vaccine has been evasive within the last couple of decades, despite a great deal of research and money spent on the issue.
In July, Johnson & Johnson declared an early-stage trial of an HIV-1 vaccine in healthy individuals caused an immune response and was “well-tolerated.” Hanneke Schuitemaker, the corporation’s head and vice president of viral vaccine design, stated it took 12 to 13 years to get to this point, with some setbacks in the field. The vaccine development process has profited from knowledge obtained during vaccine trials for the Ebola virus.
It will still be a while before the vaccine could become available — next, it will have to prove that it’s effective at actually preventing HIV.
Malaria is a parasitic infection caused by mosquitoes, which may result in nausea, fever, and chills, along with other serious complications such as organ failure. The disease accounts for over half of mosquito-related deaths, mostly in sub-Saharan Africa.
There is no broadly available vaccine for malaria. However, three countries are set to participate in a pilot program for a malaria vaccine beginning in 2018, the WHO said.
The number of deaths resulting from the disease is already falling, however, as a result of prevention efforts such as insecticides that are sprayed and used in netting. Between 2000 and 2015, malaria deaths dropped 62 percent, translating to 6.8 million lives saved, under the World Health Organization.
Norovirus, the bug responsible for some of the food-poisoning episodes at Chipotle, can lead to stomach aches, vomiting, diarrhea, and nausea. The virus affects about 21 million people in the US annually. While there are ways to protect against norovirus, there’s no vaccine for it yet.
Though a company called Vaxart is developing a tablet vaccine that could prevent the virus. In February 2017, Vaxart announced the medication was a success in an early trial in people, proving to be safe and effective at spurring an immune reaction. Next, the vaccine will have to prove that it’s useful before it can be approved.
8. “Universal” Flu Vaccine
Most vaccines have to be administered a couple of times or once in a person’s life. However, the flu mutates so often that there are continuous updates to the vaccine depending on what the World Health Organization suggests. This is the reason many people get flu shots every winter.
But researchers at vaccine-maker Sanofi are becoming closer to a universal vaccine, which may provide more comprehensive protection against the flu. That way, rather than shot once every year, the vaccine could broadly defend against the virus, as it evolves during a few years.
Today’s flu vaccines have three or four strains in a single dose, and newer vaccines could include those in a wider way. Instead of being specific to a single bug, the vaccines against these strains could be general enough to face off any mutation the virus takes.
If you’re able to have ample vaccines that defend against the various flu subtypes, you could use whichever one makes the best sense in a given outbreak. The idea’s still in the pre-clinical phase.
Almost right after the world recognized Zika was spiraling into a worldwide epidemic in early 2016, scientists started looking into a potential vaccine. Soon after, researchers started human trials to analyze the vaccine.
In March 2017, that effort crowned at the beginning of a phase 2 trial, which will determine whether the vaccine is effective in 2,490 people in the US, Central, and South America. It’s expected to wrap up in 2019.