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Vaccine Platform Technologies: A Potent Tool for Emerging Infectious Disease Vaccine Development

Amesh A. Adalja, Matthew Watson, Anita Cicero, Tom Inglesby
Date posted:
February 17, 2020
Publication type:
Health Secur. 2020 Jan/Feb;18(1):59-60
Mary Ann Liebert, Inc.
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Vaccines are the cornerstone of the management of an infectious disease outbreak and are the surest means to defuse pandemic and epidemic risk. The faster a vaccine can be deployed, the faster an outbreak can be extinguished. To date, however, the pharmaceutical response to emerging infectious diseases and bioterrorism has been characterized by a “one bug, one drug” approach, in which specific medical countermeasures—effective vaccines and therapeutics—are developed, manufactured, and deployed. This is a process that is often measured in decades.

However, over the past several years, platform technologies have been developed that could make it possible for multiple vaccines to be more rapidly produced from a single system. In fact, the 2 vaccines being deployed in the Ebola outbreak in the Democratic Republic of Congo are both platform-based.

In 2018-19, the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security conducted a project to elucidate the promise and challenges of vaccine platform technologies. The overarching aim of the project was to develop a state-of-the-art conceptual understanding of various vaccine platform technologies, with special attention to how they might speed development of vaccines for global catastrophic biologic risks (GCBRs) and emerging infectious disease outbreaks. The report describes major scientific and policy issues related to platforms and how they are understood in government, academia, and industry, and it provides recommendations aimed at helping realize the potential benefits of vaccine platform technologies.

What follows is a brief summary of the most salient issues identified in the report that are important as platform technologies proliferate and are increasingly favored as a means for vaccine development. Recommendations for how to capture the full value of platform vaccine technologies were also made and are included in this commentary.



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