Game-Changing R&D Breakthroughs

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Dr Wayne Pisano, CEO of VaxInnate, opened the Plenary Sessions of Day Two of the World Vaccine Congress and Expo USA 2013, and introduced the first speaker, Dr Gregory Poland, Director at the Mayo Clinic, who delivered a presentation entitled "Vaccinomics: social and science systems in transition". Dr Poland introduced the concept of moving from a blockbuster model to a personalized model of vaccination. He asked whether it makes sense in the 21st century for us to give the same drug and dose to everyone – the answer was no, so why do we do it with vaccines? He explained that we are entering a 2nd golden age of vaccinology – a new era of individualized vaccinology – and that we can move towards individualized vaccinology by looking at the immune response network theory and proposing a mathematical model for predictive immune response. He explained the benefits of vaccinomics, and explained the need to move towards understanding host genetics to understand the drivers of immune response and then apply this to the development of new vaccines. In the era of personalized "predictive vaccinology", we might abandon the one size and dose fits all vaccine approach, and predict whether to give a vaccine based on likelihood of response. If we can understand how immune responses are generated across age, gender, race and medical condition, we can deliver a directed, rather than empiric, approach. If we can predict aberrant response – that is, adverse effects or no response – then we might not expose someone to the risk and cost of a vaccine if there's no hope of a response. This can lead to ‘Vaccinology 2.0'.

Next to the stage was Dr Jay A. Berzofsky, Branch Chief, Vaccine Branch, NCI, NIH, who gave a presentation on "Vaccine strategies for the 21st Century for HIV and Cancer: Advances in basic principles and translation to human clinical trials". He focussed on T-cell immune responses and how to optimise vaccine-induced T-cell immunity to improve quantity and quality (avidity, longevity, function) of immune responses. The four main areas he spoke about were: 1) Optimisation of vaccine-induced T-cell immunity; 2) Steering the immune response using IL-15 to mediate CD4+ T-cell cell help for CD8+ CTLs – and thus the possibility of using an IL-15 vaccine (and also TLR ligands) as a substitute for CD4+ help in humans; 3) Mucosal immunity using oral coated nanoparticles that can mimic the protection conferred by an intrarectal vaccine but not by the rectal delivery route; 4) Overcoming negative regulation using anti-TGF-β / GC1008, and the role of type 1 and 2 NKT cells in promoting and suppressing tumour immunity.

Marie Mazur, CSL Biotherapies, spoke about "Fostering access to innovation: commercial realities". She spoke about the history of bioCSL and the 3 businesses of CSL, and discussed the work of bioCSL in the influenza vaccine market and how bioCSL fosters access to innovation. She explained the link between demand, supply and price of influenza vaccines, and outlined the realities of providing access to innovation in a commercial organisation.

To conclude the morning Opening Plenary session, Dr Rino Rappuoli, Head of R&D at Novartis Vaccines presented on "Vaccines for the future: Designing the next generation of vaccines for global public health". Dr Rappuoli discussed the history of recombinant DNA, glycoconjugation and reverse vaccinology over the last 30 years. He spoke about next generation technologies – namely, adjuvants (including MF59), structural vaccinology and structure-based design (including engineering stable F protein for RSV vaccine), and SAM (self-amplifying mRNA) vaccines for RSV and HIV. He debated about whether it was time to retire the use of eggs in the manufacture of vaccines, citing that a high incidence of flu correlates with vaccine-strain mismatch, and that eggs are a major cause of mismatch as the passage in eggs introduces mutations. Therefore he suggested that we should look more towards producing vaccines in cells. He also spoke about the shipping of information over the internet rather than transporting physical viruses to produce vaccines around the world.

Were you at World Vaccine Congress USA 2013? Do you have any comments about the morning's R&D presentations? You can leave a comment in the box below, on Twitter with the hashtag #wvcusa, or on LinkedIn group discussion.

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