2015 looks like it could be a very good year indeed – although perhaps not so much if you're a mosquito-transmitted parasite. 2015 marks exactly halfway through the Decade of Vaccines, and how better to celebrate this milestone than to potentially revolutionise the control of two burdensome mosquito-transmitted diseases.
Firstly, GlaxoSmithKline has announced that it hopes to debut the world's first malaria vaccine in 2015. Although last November we were left disappointed by a lack of efficacy shown by the RTS,S vaccine, hopes are raised again for the Glaxo malaria jab, as new trial data shows that the vaccine almost halved the number of malaria cases in young children and reduced by about a quarter the number of malaria cases in infants. Based on the new trial data, GSK intends to submit a regulatory application to the EMA next year, and hopes that the WHO will recommend use of the vaccine as early as 2015.
The vaccine is being developed by GSK in collaboration with the PATH Malaria Vaccine Initiative, with grant funding from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. Although the vaccine is by no means perfect in its efficacy, the vaccine's developers have noted that the vaccine could serve as a very useful tool as an addition to – but not a replacement for – mosquito nets, insecticides and anti-malaria drugs.
“Given the huge disease burden of malaria among African children, we cannot ignore what these latest results tell us about the potential for RTS,S to have a measurable and significant impact on the health of millions of young children in Africa,” said David Kaslow, vice president of product development at PATH. “This trial continues to show that a malaria vaccine could potentially bring an important additional benefit beyond that provided by the tools already in use.”
In addition to a vaccine for malaria, 2015 could also see the introduction of the world's first dengue vaccine. Sanofi has fired up production of its experimental dengue vaccine in a move to signal its lead over competitor dengue vaccine developers. Although the vaccine conferred protection against just three of the four dengue serotypes in a trial in Thailand last year, Sanofi remains confident for the vaccine's potential launch in 2015. Brazil has the highest number of reported cases of dengue annually (WHO 2000-2005) – and this news could mean that the vaccine might come just in time for the 2016 Rio de Janiero Olympics.
Read about the malaria vaccine at Reuters >
What other vaccines could be launched in 2015?
If you want to know more about vaccines, and meet innovators, disruptors and influencers from across the vaccine research, development and technology landscape, attend the World Vaccine Congress Europe 2013, 16-17 October 2013, Lille.
Read more: 5 of the Most Terrible Epidemics That Won't Happen Again (thanks to vaccines)