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Fighting Disease with Vaccines

Vaccines are one of the most profound achievements for public health.

For years, vaccines have been used to prevent devastating infectious diseases such as smallpox, measles and polio.

According to data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 10 infectious diseases have been at least 90 percent eradicated in the United States thanks to vaccines. This has protected millions of children and families from needless illness. These public health triumphs illustrate the major contributions that vaccines have made in saving countless lives around the world. 

In the past several years, many new vaccines have been developed, including one against human papillomavirus (HPV) infections that can lead to cervical cancer, and a vaccine to guard against the anthrax virus before exposure. Today, biopharmaceutical research companies are developing 250 vaccines for infectious diseases, cancer, neurological disorders, allergies and other diseases.

300,000+ Domestic Measle Infections in 1960

As of 2009, America has experienced a 99% reduction in cases annually because of the MMR vaccine. However, the death rate can be quite high in underdeveloped nations. Measles caused the deaths of 1.1 million children globally in 2000. Vaccination programs contributed to global decreases until the case count among children fell as low as 118,000 by 2008. However, vaccination campaigns have since suffered from funding cutbacks, allowing the disease to roar back.

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Preventative Vaccines

The prevention of disease has an enormous impact on the health of individuals, but also the health of communities. Preventative vaccines are given to individuals, but see their greatest benefit when entire populations are immunized. When a high level of vaccination is achieved in a community with an effective vaccine, disease transmission can be successfully interrupted so that even those who did not receive the vaccine will be protected from the disease. This is known as herd immunity.

GSK Malaria Vaccine Team Awardee 2013

For almost 30 years, GSK's Malaria Vaccine Team has devoted tireless effort towards the development of a malaria vaccine, targeted to children in Sub-Saharan Africa.


Of Vaccinated People Are Immune to Measles

Most vaccines prove to be highly effective. The inactivated polio vaccine offers 99 percent effectiveness after three doses. The varicella (chickenpox) vaccine is between 85 percent and 90 percent effective in preventing all varicella infections, but 100 percent effective in preventing moderate and severe chicken pox.

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Scientific Advances in Vaccine Development

Vaccines in development today will help prevent or treat a number of conditions. Research is currently underway to develop a number of such treatments, including 124 for infectious diseases and 105 for cancer alone. 

Read More on Vaccines at the Catalyst Blog 

300 Million

Died From Smallpox in the 20th Century

One of the deadliest diseases known to humans, smallpox is the only disease to have been eradicated by vaccination. The last U.S. wild smallpox case occurred in 1949. After intensive vaccination campaigns, the last case in the world occurred in Somalia in 1977.

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Medicines in the Pipeline

Biopharmaceutical research companies are developing 250 vaccines for infectious diseases, cancer, neurological disorders, allergies and other diseases.

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Related Medicines

  • HIV Infection

    A therapeutic vaccine in development is targeting the low-mutating (conserved) parts from the protein p24 of the HIV virus. The vaccine consists of four peptides that are modified to increase the immune response against the conserved parts of the p24 protein. A sustained immune response against the p24 protein has shown to be associated with delayed disease progression.

  • Influenza

    A monoclonal antibody (mAb) vaccine in development targets both pandemic and severe seasonal influenza A virus infections. The mAb vaccine, made from recombinant human antibodies from human B-cell cultures, specifically targets the M2 protein of the virus, which is essential for the influenza virus to function normally.

  • Pancreatic Cancer

    A potential treatment for pancreatic cancer is a combination of two therapeutic vaccines. The treatment combines a Listeria-based vaccine that has been engineered to express the tumor-associated antigen mesothelin and allogeneic pancreatic cancer cells that are genetically-modified to secrete the immune-stimulant, granulocyte-macrophage colony stimulating factor (GM-CSF). The cells are irradiated to prevent further cell growth although they stay metabolically active. Sequential administration of the vaccines in animal studies have demonstrated enhanced tumor-specific T-cell and anti-tumor responses.

  • Malaria

    A malaria vaccine in development has shown to be 100 percent effective in early clinical trials in preventing the transmission of the disease from infected mosquitoes to humans. The vaccine builds on initial knowledge gained in the 1970s, where researchers demonstrated that long-term protection against malaria was possible when volunteers received thousands of bites from radiated infected mosquitoes. The vaccine in development uses a weakened form of the whole sporozoite, a life-stage of the parasite Plasmodium falciparnum that causes malaria. This weakened form of the parasite is enough to cause an immune response, but not cause the disease, thus leading to protection against any future malarial bite infection.



View and download resources that highlight the importance of vaccines and provide more information on the vaccines in development: