Infectious Disease Vaccines and Development Trend

(Summary description)

Infectious Disease Vaccines and Development Trend

(Summary description)


Vaccines against infectious diseases are biological products modified from pathogenic microorganisms or their proteins, polysaccharides, nucleic acids and other materials with good immunogenicity through conventional attenuation, inactivation, or modern genetic engineering techniques. Vaccination facilitates the active immunization by using vaccines to induce the human body to produce specific immunity and prevent the incidence and prevalence of infectious diseases. Vaccination is the most effective medical intervention to reduce the death and morbidity caused by infectious diseases and is a successful paradigm for humans to apply immunological principles to improve health. Many severe infectious diseases that have seriously threatened human life and health in history have been effectively controlled by vaccination, such as the epidemics of smallpox, plague, cholera, and yellow fever. In particular, smallpox has been eradicated through global vaccination, setting a brilliant paradigm for the vaccination to eliminate infectious diseases. The wide application of vaccines has greatly reduced the incidence of vaccine-preventable diseases (VPD) such as poliomyelitis, measles, diphtheria, pertussis, and viral hepatitis B, and has successfully saved countless lives. However, there are still no effective vaccines for prevention of some infectious diseases that seriously endanger human health, and some new and recurrent infectious diseases have also become new threats to human health, which are the challenges faced by the development and application of vaccines. This article will briefly introduce the development history of vaccines and the current trends of new vaccine research and development.


Introduction to Vaccine Development History

Vaccines continue to be developed and improved in the struggle of humans against infectious diseases. In the 10th century, Chinese people observed that patients who recovered after being infected with smallpox would not get infected again. According to this phenomenon, they invented the variolation to prevent smallpox. The variolation was spread to the surrounding Eurasian countries through the Silk Road around the 17th–18th century AD and played an active role in smallpox prevention at that time. The variolation used the pox scab containing the virus from people who recovered from smallpox for direct inoculation, but it had potential safety hazard because the virulence of the virus was not reduced. Edward Jenner, a British doctor, believed that vaccinia infection could protect people from smallpox after observing the phenomenon that milking workers who had been infected by vaccinia would not suffer from smallpox. Jenner implemented a human clinical trial of vaccination against smallpox in 1796 and successfully demonstrated that vaccination against smallpox was both safe and effective, which was a precedent for humans to consciously and specifically prevent infectious diseases. Smallpox vaccine played an important role in the prevention of smallpox in humans, and the long-term widespread vaccination of vaccinia has made smallpox the first infectious disease to be eliminated by vaccines in history.
Since the 19th century, Robert Koch and Louise Pasteur have established the etiology of infectious diseases and effective pathogen attenuation, inactivation, and toxin inactivation techniques. With the discovery, isolation, and culture of pathogenic microorganisms, vaccine development techniques have evolved rapidly, and vaccines against many severe infectious diseases have been successfully developed. For example, Louise Pasteur developed anthrax attenuated vaccine and rabies vaccine, Albert Calmette and Camille Guerin developed BCG, and Jonas Salk and Albert Sabin developed inactivated poliomyelitis vaccine and live attenuated oral poliomyelitis vaccine, respectively. Scientific and technological progress has greatly promoted the research and development of effective vaccines. Since the 20th century, the development of pathogenic biology, anti-infective immunology and molecular biology theory and techniques enabled humans to have a deeper understanding of the antigen composition of pathogens and immune response mechanism. Combined with the application of genetic engineering techniques and protein expression purification techniques in vaccine research and development, vaccines for many different infectious diseases have been successfully developed and widely used in the immunization practice (Figure1).

Figure1 Milestones in the development of vaccines for infectious diseases


Types of Vaccines by Preparation Method
According to the preparation method of vaccines, vaccines can be divided into live attenuated vaccines, inactivated vaccines, toxoid vaccines, subunit vaccines, polysaccharide vaccines, and gene engineered vaccines, etc.(Table1).


Table1 Human (bacterial, viral) vaccines by preparation method


R & D Trends of Novel Vaccines

The widespread use of vaccines has led to a significant decrease in morbidity and mortality of vaccine-preventable diseases. However, infectious diseases still seriously endanger human health. The emergence and prevalence of infectious diseases, such as AIDS, malaria, tuberculosis, schistosomiasis and other emerging infectious diseases, have caused severe harm to human health and social development. There is an urgent need for effective vaccines to control the spread and epidemic of these diseases. The research and development of vaccines against these pathogens and for the vaccination of target population have been faced with great challenges (Figure2). Conventional vaccine development strategies, including attenuation and inactivation of pathogenic microorganisms and purification of protein subunits (toxoids), make it difficult to develop vaccines that effectively target pathogens with highly variable or complicated antigens, such as HIV, HCV, and plasmodium. This has prompted researchers to actively explore novel vaccine research and development techniques to determine the protective antigens of pathogens and explore how to induce immune responses and immune memory against these antigens.
The development of modern genetic engineering technology and bioinformatics has enabled people to make attempts at a series of novel vaccine research and development techniques, such as reverse vaccinology, structural vaccinology, systematic vaccinology, recombinant vector technique, and recombinant virus technique. These techniques have been applied to the development of infectious disease vaccines that are difficult to be developed with conventional vaccine development strategies. The rational design of vaccines against different components such as immunogen selection, antigen delivery system and adjuvants that affect the efficacy of vaccines is the current trend in the research and development of new vaccines (Table2). The application of these techniques is expected to promote the development of new vaccines.


Figure2 Target diseases for which new vaccine are being developed

Table2 Requirements and challenges for rational vaccine design



[1] Zhao Kai. Vaccine Research and Application. Beijing: People's Medical Publishing House, 2013.
[2] Delany I,Rappuoli R,Gregorio ED. Vaccines for the 21th century. EMBO Mol Med, 2014, 6: 708-720.
[3] Rueckert C, Guzman CA. Vaccines: from empirical development to rational design. Plos Pathog, 2012, 8(11): e1003001.

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