Thursday, 26 February 2015

Improving Immunisation Goals with Heat Resistant Vaccines

Access to basic childhood immunisation is one of the biggest medical interventions to reduce the burden of childhood mortality. Along with clean water and hygiene it has helped avert diseases and disability. Every minute, five lives are saved by vaccines worldwide. In fact, immunisation is one of the most equitable health interventions which reaches all without any gender or economic bias and is an investment in building a strong nation, as it protects children from death and disability.  Yet, more than a million children – 90% of them in developing countries – die every year from vaccine-preventable diseases.

Despite the wholesome impact cast by vaccines in preventive healthcare, they have generally received less attention than drugs. But the vaccine landscape is shifting, and new opportunities, challenges, and debates have pushed immunisation to the centre of global health discussions. A multitude of factors come in the way of vaccine delivery in the developing world. These factors focus on vaccine accessibility, which encompass prohibitive price of the new vaccines and their adaptability in the developing countries. New vaccines are extremely expensive, as they are largely developed for wealthy nations and require meticulous adherence to cold chain to retain potency.

Cold chain constraint is a classic instance of limitation in vaccine delivery. In developing economies, factors like tropical temperature, power shortage and long distance between healthcare facilities can jeopardise the cold chain and compromise the effectiveness of immunization, shorten their shelf life and hamper the delivery of lifesaving vaccines to children in greatest need. Many virus outbreaks have been attributed to breaks in the cold chain which reduces the ability to eradicate many diseases in developing countries.  The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that annually 10-50 percent of vaccines may be wasted globally because of temperature control, logistics and shipment-related issues.

To expand immunization coverage and achieve far-reaching benefits, Hilleman Laboratories, an equal joint-venture partnership between Merck & Co., a global research-driven pharmaceutical company and Wellcome Trust, a global charitable foundation dedicated to human and animal health is advancing technologies that help maintain all quality attributes of the vaccine even under un-favourable temperature conditions. Using newer heat-stabilization techniques, Hilleman is researching methods to enhance thermostability of vaccines, which promises to change the landscape of vaccine delivery in developing countries.

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Hilleman Laboratories is a global vaccine research & development organization focused on making affordable vaccines using innovation to address gaps that exist in low resource settings. Hilleman Labs acts as a catalyst in bridging the gap between academic research and product development by targeting novel vaccines and increasing the efficiency of existing vaccines. Know More

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