The world of vaccines is changing rapidly as new scientific breakthroughs are made and old problems are solved. Vaccines work by providing immunity against diseases like measles, but until recently there was only one way to create them: using the actual microorganism that causes the disease. It was a slow process, because bacteria reproduce quickly and have a lot of genetic material to manipulate. Today’s scientists have developed faster and more efficient ways to produce vaccines—and these methods will keep improving in the future as well!
Attenuated vaccines are live, but weakened versions of the infectious agent. They’re created by passaging the virus through different host cells. In doing so, scientists can reduce its virulence while retaining its ability to induce an immune response in animals or humans (in other words, attenuate means to weaken or soften).
Attenuated vaccines have been used for decades and continue to be a safe and effective way to prevent disease.
Molecular vaccines are a new approach to vaccines. They use DNA or RNA to trigger an immune response, making them much cheaper and quicker to produce than traditional vaccines. Molecular vaccines can also be used as “adjuvants”—substances added to help existing vaccines work better or longer—or even as stand-alone treatments for certain diseases like HIV or malaria.
In the next few years, we’ll see many more types of molecular vaccines enter clinical trials because they’re so versatile and relatively easy to make compared with traditional ones which require the right type of live virus that’s been weakened in a lab before it goes into production.
Overcoming technical challenges
There are a number of technical challenges to overcome in vaccine creation, but they can be solved with careful planning. One of the most important things you need is a reliable manufacturer that can make your vaccines quickly and at an affordable price. If you choose the wrong company, there could be delays in production and distribution that will disrupt your business’s schedule.
Another challenge facing vaccine producers is making sure their products meet regulatory standards for purity and safety. It’s critical that vaccines are manufactured under strict conditions so they don’t cause any adverse reactions when given to people by doctors or pharmacists who administer them. This is why companies like Avantor are so essential for offering, “comprehensive, full lifecycle equipment services for optimized lab operations and full compliance assured for all accreditation standards.” These services can drastically improve the efficiency and reliability of any scientific laboratory.
The next generation
The next generation of vaccines will be even more effective than what we have today. New techniques are being explored, developed, tested and used to create new vaccines that can protect against both known and unknown viruses.
New-generation vaccines generally consist of an inactivated virus or a genetically engineered virus that replicates but does not cause disease. They are produced by either growing viruses in cell cultures or using recombinant DNA technology to manipulate the genes of existing viruses so they’re no longer harmful (for example, making them non-infectious). Both methods have advantages and disadvantages when it comes to manufacturing large quantities of vaccine quickly—and at low cost!
Vaccines are Essential for Public Health
Vaccines are essential for public health. They provide the most successful public health intervention of all time, saving more than 21 million lives in 2017 alone. They’re safe and effective, protecting people from disease by preventing infections and reducing the spread of diseases even when they’re already circulating. Vaccines prevent outbreaks by providing immunity to a high percentage of the population through herd immunity—when enough people are vaccinated against an illness, it becomes very difficult for those who have not been vaccinated (including infants) to become infected with that illness. Vaccines also protect against pandemics by providing immunity to many different strains or types of a virus at once.
And so, it is our responsibility to make sure that vaccines are available in the future. This means investing in research and development, creating policies that promote vaccination, and educating people about the importance of immunization. The good news is that there are many promising new vaccines in development! We’re excited about their potential to protect more people against diseases and keep us all healthy.