The U.S. will continue to lead the global vaccine market and grow as much as 5.3 percent each year until 2018, according to a new report from Transparency Market Research.
With the potential to reach $17.4 billion by 2018, the market is moving toward consolidation, with the most dominant players being Pfizer, GSK, Novartis and Sanofi.
There have certainly been disappointments in vaccine technology recently — like Sanofi’s announcement that its vaccine against dengue fever was less effective than hoped in a clinical trial — but researchers are also making great progress in other areas.
Here are six areas where vaccine innovation is especially active:
Women’s cancers: Hundreds of vaccines to prevent or treat various forms of cancer are in development, but one segment that’s attracted a lot of attention is women’s cancers. Two preventative HPV vaccines are already on the market, so some companies like PDS Biotechnology and Inovio Pharmaceuticals are focusing instead on therapeutic vaccines for women with HPV. Ovarian cancer has been a tough area for researchers to crack, but Quest PharmaTech is currently recruiting for a phase 2 trial of its immunotherapy, and Heat Biologics also hopes to begin a trial of its vaccine in ovarian cancer late this year.
Breast cancer is perhaps the area with the most vaccine development activity. Of course, there is Herceptin and companies like Galena Biopharma are studying other forms of immunotherapies with success. Research is ongoing at facilities like Brooke Army Medical Center, MD Anderson Cancer Center, Cleveland Clinic and many others. And there are even more breast cancer vaccines in the early stage pipeline, from pharma giants like GSK to startups like Immunophotonics.
Temperature stabilization: Many vaccines must be refrigerated, but research is being conducted to make these vaccines stable at room temperature, which could drive down costs and make them more easily transportable, especially in developing countries. Global health nonprofit PATH is investigating ways to manufacture stable formulations like spray drying and freeze stabilization. Other researchers funded by the National Institutes of Health recently developed a silk-based stabilizer to keep some vaccines and antibiotics stable at temperatures up to 140 degrees Fahrenheit.
Hospital-acquired infections: Vaccines have become a huge target for institutions and companies looking toward the hospital-acquired infection market, starting with Big Pharma. Sanofi Pasteur has vaccines for C. difficile, Staph and Pseudomonas aeruginosa infections in its pipeline. GSK has several infectious-disease vaccines in its pipeline (PDF), as does Novartis. Merck halted a study of its MRSA vaccine last year, but University of Rochester researchers said early this year they’ve developed one. Vaccines for Staphylococcus aureus are also under development by the Florida company Nabi Corp. and North Dakota company NovaDigm Therapeutics.
Vaccine delivery: From nanopatches to nanoparticles, researchers are employing different methods of drug delivery in an attempt to drive down the cost and/or the amount of drugs needed. The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation last year ran a $250,000 challenge soliciting ideas for new vaccine delivery methods. Others like AktiVax are focused on producing the vaccine for cheaper. It’s developing a prefilled, unit-dose injection device for freeze-dried vaccines that can be deployed with one hand.
Alzheimer’s disease: Recent clinical data from Pfizer’s and Eli Lilly’s experimental Alzheimer’s drugs may have been disappointing, but there’s hope on the vaccine front. Last year, AFFiRiS AG presented positive data from a phase 1 study of its Alzheimer’s vaccine, for which it signed a licensing and option deal with GSK. Elan and Pfizer are reviving a failed drug, AN-1782, which is in a phase 2a trial; Nuron Biotech recently licensed a vaccine; and Novartis and Cytos Biotechnology’s vaccine targeting amyloid B delivered positive results in a phase 1 trial.
HIV: Despite a past littered with defeats in this area, pharmaceutical companies are pressing on. One researcher has even said we are five to 10 years away from an HIV vaccine or cure. The Spanish Superior Scientific Research Council turned heads last fall when it announced that 90 percent of its volunteers developed an immunological response to HIV in a phase 1 clinic trial. Bavarian Nordic is testing its candidate in a phase 1/2 trial, and GSK, Mymetics and Novartis also have drugs in early trials. Meanwhile, UNC and Merck are leading a $32 million HIV drug development effort.
[Photo from flickr user DFID]