Which isn’t to say there isn’t a lot of money vaccines. Sales jumped nearly 30% between 2007 to 2009, from $18.5 billion to $26 billion, with flu jabs accounting for $5 billion, and Gardasil, Merck’s controversial vaccine designed to prevent cervical cancer, hauling in just over $1 billion. Per year.
Likewise, GALVmed’s focus on livestock and poultry vaccines not only benefits animals, but also the hundreds of millions of rural poor in developing countries who rely on them for food and income. A measly 5% of international aid goes toward agriculture, yet it is much cheaper to help people grow their own food than to ship stockpiles of emergency grain.
Breakthroughs in vaccine delivery and storage have significantly increased the effectiveness of immunization programs. Breaking the “cold chain” has become a rallying cry for a raft of new technologies. Traditionally, vaccines have had to be kept chilled throughout the entire journey from high-tech lab to off-the-grid clinics. A new bi-chambered syringe, which keeps the vaccine in a freeze-dried form until needed, may change that.
Vaccines with longer shelf lives should also cut down on costs. An estimated $260 million worth of swine flu vaccine had to be thrown out in the U.S. when it hit its expiration date over the summer.
Research continues on “edible vaccines,” a.k.a. “plant-based pharmaceuticals,” a.k.a. “molecular farming.” Although not quite the headline-darling they were five years ago, in large part due to concerns over GMOs, 20 years of research has more than proved the concept. It is possible to snack one’s way to immunity.
Since human researchers have yet to invent anything Nature doesn’t already do at some level (see “jumping genes), it begs the question whether foods naturally provide a degree of vaccination. For example, could this be a contributing factor for why not everyone gets sick drinking contaminated water? Is it possible that plants, which are known to take up pathogens via water (e.g., e.coli in lettuce), slurp up low levels of local germs, triggering an antibody response in those who eat them?
Of course, this is just speculation. But if anyone out there knows of any research, or is inspired to do the research, please keep us posted at TrackerNews. We love this sort of thing. Nobody does balance better than Nature.
The link suite includes articles and videos on:
- Breaking the “cold chain” with a smarter syringe
- Malaria vaccine possible by 2015
- Vaccinating the middle man: protecting robins against West Nile and mosquitoes against plasmodium
- Dengue trials for an all-four-strains vaccine in Australia
- Why the money might run out before polio does
- Hurdles slowing down progress on TB jab
- Fungus to fight fungus – vaccinating trees
- Is eradication futile?
- and more…