A landmark report on hundreds of new vaccines in development from the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA) reflects robust R&D in this field. Biopharmaceutical companies are developing 271 vaccines, about half of them to prevent infectious diseases, and smaller numbers targeted at allergies, neurological disorders, and other conditions, according to the report. A big-growth area is in therapeutic vaccines to treat cancer by boosting the body’s immune response to halt tumor growth, as with test vaccines to treat metastatic renal cell cancer and melanoma. Other new vaccines in development aim to combat a common form of genital herpes, and reports from Africa cite huge drops meningitis cases following introduction of the MenAfriVac therapy in 2010. Similarly, broader use of vaccines against HPV (human papillomavirus) has greatly cut US infection rates in teenage girls.
More vaccine development means expansion of manufacturing capability. Merck continues to expand and upgrade vaccine production despite major corporate cutbacks, as seen in recent FDA approval a plant in Durham, NC to manufacture bulk varicella for vaccines against chicken pox and shingles.