Conference on Vaccine Research to Highlight 40-Year Progress


Scientists at the 13th annual Conference on Vaccine Research (ACVR), sponsored by the National Foundation for Infectious Diseases (NFID), will reflect on the remarkable growth of vaccine biotechnology in the last several decades and focus on the growing number of challenging illnesses that may become vaccine-preventable or vaccine-treatable in the coming years.

According to Susan J. Rehm, MD, medical director for NFID, "In addition to the reality that a large number of common infections have come under control in the vaccine era, we can now envision the possibility of preventing or treating many chronic, non-infectious and neoplastic conditions with vaccines. The ACVR is a premier venue for cutting-edge learning, data-sharing, and networking for scientific collaboration to help us move toward this reality."

With more than 350 scientists and physicians gathered together, ACVR is the largest scientific meeting devoted exclusively to research on vaccines and associated technologies. The conference is scheduled April 26-28, 2010 at the Bethesda North Marriott Hotel and Conference Center in North Bethesda, Md.

Keynote Address by Dr. Donald Francis Examines the Thrills and Failures of Vaccine Development and Application

Vaccine research has led to some of mankind's greatest public health triumphs and holds the promise of even more in the near future.  Donald Francis, MD, DSc, will review significant vaccine successes around the world, among them the global eradication of smallpox, the widespread containment of polio, and development and use of measles, rotavirus and influenza vaccines worldwide. He will also review the encouraging results in Phase III clinical trials with RTS,S, for malaria and an HIV vaccine regimen (RV144) tested in a Thai study that was shown to be safe and modestly effective in preventing HIV infection.

In a career that has spanned four decades, Francis has also confronted many challenges and disappointments in vaccine research. He will talk about delays - that have taken a good part of a century - between vaccine development and the eventual control of some diseases. He will also share frustrations about the lack of public resources dedicated to vaccine development. "The private sector can develop products only if the society values them and they, therefore, can expect a profit," says Francis. "But there are great failures in this system where the public values therapeutics over vaccines and government prevention leaders want safe and effective vaccines that cost only pennies. This is especially challenging for less developed countries where resources are even more scarce."

It is this sentiment that motivated Francis to co-found his non-profit global health company, Global Solutions for Infectious Diseases, to develop diagnostic and preventive tools for infectious diseases including HIV. His plan was to move forward with AIDS research unhampered by funders' foot dragging, political interference and corporate profit margins.

Francis will discuss instances in which politics have interfered with public health efforts and his recommendation that the "United States should appoint a National Board of Health to insulate the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention from the vagaries of political extremism."

Francis is an infectious disease trained pediatrician and epidemiologist, with global experience in epidemic control and vaccines. He is currently chairman and executive director of Global Solutions for Infectious Diseases in San Francisco. The keynote address is Monday, April 26 at 8:30 a.m.

Vaccines, Poverty and World Hunger Symposium Explores the Role of Health and Immunization Programs in Reducing Poverty

Poverty is often thought of in purely monetary or income terms, as in being above or below a "poverty line." The World Bank's 1990 World Development Report expanded upon the income-based definition by adding that poverty includes the lack of capability to maintain health and nutrition and to increase capabilities through education. A symposium examining the relationships between disease, poverty and hunger will be held on Monday, April 26 at 9:45 a.m.

Specific topics to be addressed during this session include Vaccines for Neglected Tropical Diseases (NTDs); Poverty, Hunger and the Promise of Malaria Vaccines; and Global Control and Eradication of Foot and Mouth Disease.

Peter J. Hotez, MD, PhD, will discuss progress among non-profit development partnerships to create vaccines for chronic parasitic and other infectious diseases - including leishmaniasis, dengue and helminth infections. Helminths are parasitic worms that live inside humans. Approximately 1 billion to 2 billion people globally are infected with helminths.

Several recombinant antigen-based vaccines are now entering clinical development for two of the most common diseases caused by helminths: hookworm infection and schistosomiasis. Programs of integrated mass drug administration are now in place to reduce the global burden of neglected tropical diseases, but ultimately a new generation of control tools including vaccines will be required to control and effect elimination. Globally, at least four non-profit product development partnerships are in place to develop such anti-poverty vaccines, as well as some key partnerships with major multinational companies.

Hotez is Distinguished Research Professor and the Walter G. Ross Professor and Chair of the Department of Microbiology, Immunology and Tropical Medicine at George Washington University, Washington, DC. Hotez is president of Sabin Vaccine Institute.

Malaria, once nearly eradicated, has re-emerged as a major global infection.  The disease now affects more than 300 million and kills nearly 1 million people every year. The infection is difficult to eradicate, particularly in tropical climates, and its control is possible only with coordinated efforts of the general public, healthcare personnel and government agencies.

Thomas L. Richie, MD, PhD, will review the complex interplay of poverty and malaria, indicating that poverty is both a cause and a consequence of this mosquito-transmitted parasitic infection.  He will review the power and limitations of the current anti-malarial tool kit, which includes anti-mosquito bed nets treated with insecticide and drugs like artemisinin, a compound derived from an herb used in traditional Chinese medicine. Richie will emphasize the need for a vaccine and the current status of malaria vaccine development, including RTS,S (the leading candidate, currently in Phase III testing), and he will explain why it is difficult to develop a vaccine against a chronic infectious agent, like malaria, that exhibits complex immune evasion strategies. He will also explore some of the challenges in deploying a highly effective vaccine.

Despite intense research efforts, the most advanced malaria vaccine candidate, RTS,S, confers only partial protection. "Current evidence shows that we need a vaccine candidate that elicits both strong humoral and cellular responses to multiple antigens from several stages of the parasite, in order to confer solid protection," says Richie. "However, a vaccine achieving such high grade protection has remained elusive."

Richie is a captain in the Medical Corps of the United States Navy and directs the Navy Component, U.S. Military Malaria Vaccine Program at the Naval Medical Research Center and Walter Reed Army Institute of Research in Silver Spring, Md.

Global control and eradication of foot-and-mouth disease (FMD) is an extremely important issue for human well-being globally.  While the highly contagious virus is not transmitted from animals to humans, it spreads rapidly among cloven-hooved animals including cattle, swine, sheep, deer and goats, with grave economic consequences to millions of people in developing countries who are dependent on livestock for food and their livelihood. Most animals recover, but the disease leaves them debilitated, causing severe loss in the production of meat and milk. Foot-and-mouth disease virus (FMDV) is a highly variable RNA virus occurring in seven serotypes and dozens of subtypes. Although killed antigen FMD vaccines have been available for decades, they produce short-lived (six months) immunity that is limited to a specific serotype or subtype.

Luis Rodriguez, DVM, PhD, will discuss the shortcomings and high expense of currently available FMD vaccines.  He will review their use in eradicating FMDV from Europe and in controlling disease in many parts of the world.  Despite these mass vaccination campaigns, Rodriguez is concerned that FMDV still thrives in endemic regions, impacting millions of people in poor countries. "We need vaccines that are less expensive to produce, easy to deliver and that result in long-term immunity." According to Rodriguez, "We also need integrated strategies that fit the specific needs of endemic regions."

Rodriguez is research leader at the Plum Island Animal Disease Center, U.S. Department of Agriculture in Orient Point, N.Y.

Merieux Award Winner Dr. Theodore Eickhoff

This year's conference will honor Theodore Eickhoff, MD, who is being presented with the 2010 Charles Merieux Award. Eickhoff will speak on "Adult Immunization, 1970-2010: Some Issues Along the Way."  Eickhoff has been a champion of adult immunization for more than four decades. He is committed to educating his colleagues about balanced assessments of benefits, costs and risks of routine vaccination to prevent diphtheria, tetanus, measles, rubella, influenza, hepatitis B and pneumococcal disease. "Most important is our role in the education of tomorrow's primary care providers," says Eickhoff. "Adult immunization will be seen as important by clinicians only when it is continually emphasized to them in their training programs."

Eickhoff will address adult immunization challenges he's noted over the years: public ignorance, professional apathy, high costs and the haphazard organization of immunization efforts. He will also address progress that he attributes to greatly improved professional education, media support in public education - aided by articulate professional spokespersons - and increasing prominence of preventive medicine.  Also contributing to progress has been improved reimbursement of health care providers and improvements in record keeping and immunization distribution channels.  He will be presented with the award and deliver the lecture on Monday, April 26 at 11:45 a.m.

Eickhoff is professor emeritus, Division of Infectious Disease, University of Colorado School of Medicine. The Merieux Award is named in honor of Dr. Charles Merieux, a French scientist and visionary, who devoted his life to the prevention of infectious diseases through vaccines. He developed the laboratory founded by his father, turning it into one of the leading vaccine manufacturing companies in the world. The company is now known as sanofi pasteur, the underwriter of the unrestricted educational grant supporting the Merieux Award.

Other Top Scientists to Lecture:

Opportunity and Challenge in AIDS Research:

Dr. Anthony S. Fauci Presents the Mary Lou Clements-Mann Memorial Lecture on Vaccine Sciences

With 2.7 million new HIV infections worldwide each year, finding a vaccine that prevents HIV infection is critical. Anthony S. Fauci, MD, notes that HIV vaccine development differs from typical vaccine development because there is no natural model of protection, and, that a quarter-century of research has yielded many disappointments.  However, he notes that new data in human and animal models provide a measure of optimism and have energized the field.

Fauci points to the modest protective effect seen in a Phase III HIV vaccine (RV144) trial in Thailand and discusses fundamental issues in HIV vaccinology that must be addressed if an effective HIV vaccine is to be developed. The field of HIV vaccinology now has two fundamental challenges. The first is to build on the results of RV144 by working to determine, if possible, the correlate(s) of immune protection in that trial.  The second challenge is to address the many fundamental issues in HIV vaccinology relevant to the design of vaccine candidates, such as identifying neutralizing epitopes on the HIV envelope and using structure-based antigen design to develop immunogens based on these epitopes.  He maintains that these goals will require that the field of HIV vaccinology maintain an appropriate balance between basic and clinical research.

Fauci is director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) at the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, Md. and chief of the NIAID Laboratory of Immunoregulation. Fauci serves as one of the key advisors to the White House and Department of Health and Human Services on global AIDS issues and on initiatives to bolster medical and public health preparedness against emerging infectious disease threats such as pandemic influenza.

The Mary Lou Clements-Mann Memorial Lecture on Vaccine Sciences is named after Mary Lou Clements-Mann, an immunologist at Johns Hopkins University who was killed in a plane crash in 1998 along with her husband, Jonathan Mann, founding director of the World Health Organization's global AIDS program. Dr. Fauci's lecture will be given on Tuesday, April 27 at 8:00 a.m.

Dr. David S. Fedson Delivers the Robert Austrian Memorial Lecture

In his lecture "Another Lesson from Kings County Hospital, 1964," David S. Fedson, MD, offers a new perspective on the observations made by Dr. Robert Austrian in his classic study of pneumococcal bacteremia. Noting that the early mortality from this disease had not changed despite the advent of antibiotic treatment, Austrian concluded that it could be prevented by vaccination. This led to the extraordinary development of pneumococcal vaccines which in recent years have brought about major reductions in hospitalization and mortality from pneumococcal infections in developed countries. Nonetheless, it will take many years before affordable pneumococcal vaccines become widely available throughout the world. Fedson will argue that another lesson can be drawn from Austrian's earlier study; namely, that in the absence of vaccination, there is a real possibility that this unpreventable mortality might be reduced by treating patients with inexpensive generic medications (for example, statins and glitazones) that modify the host response to pneumococcal infection.

Fedson is a former professor of medicine at the University of Virginia and former director of medical affairs in Europe for Aventis Pasteur MSD (now sanofi pasteur MSD).The Robert Austrian Memorial Lecture honors the late Robert Austrian, MD, a University of Pennsylvania researcher who developed the first multivalent vaccine against pneumococcal bacteria. Dr. Austrian received his MD from Johns Hopkins University and completed fellowships in Infectious Diseases at Johns Hopkins and New York University. He went on to found the Infectious Diseases division and fellowship program at the University of Pennsylvania and was Chairman of the Department of Research Medicine there from 1962 to 1986.  The Austrian Lecture is supported by an unrestricted educational grant from Merck & Co., Inc.

Maurice R. Hilleman Early Stage Career Investigator Award

The recipient of this year's Maurice R. Hilleman Early Stage Career Investigator Award, which recognizes promising scientists who are just beginning their careers in vaccinology will be announced Tuesday, April 27 at a 12:15 luncheon.

The Annual Conference on Vaccine Research provides current, high-quality reports of scientific progress featured in both invited presentations and submitted abstracts. The wide range of topics, covered in both human and veterinary vaccinology, offers a thorough picture of the opportunities, challenges and discoveries associated with vaccine development, production and distribution.

The conference is sponsored by the National Foundation for Infectious Diseases (NFID) and held in collaboration with the Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research/Food and Drug Administration, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Center for Vaccine Development of the University of Maryland, Fondation Merieux, International Association for Biologicals, International Society for Vaccines, International Vaccine Institute, National Institute for Allergy and Infectious Diseases, The Jenner Society, Sabin Vaccine Institute and United States Department of Agriculture. Founded in 1973, NFID is a non-profit organization dedicated to educating the public and healthcare professionals about the causes, treatment and prevention of infectious diseases.




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