Vaccine development surges

After years of underfunding, this is now a great time for the vaccine business. Three new vaccines hit the market during 2006 alone, the most known for a single year, and costly new vaccines are likely to find acceptance this year. Vaccines released during 2006 include HPV, which has been linked to the development of cervical cancer, and rotavirus, which kills 600,000 children around the world. And the trend is likely to continue, experts say. Technology breakthroughs, boosted by higher funding, are generating higher profits, enticing pharma companies like Pfizer to return to the market in record numbers. Observers say that within five years, researchers may have actually developed a vaccine for malaria, which has proven virtually impossible to develop in the past. Within 10 years, vaccines fighting herpes simplex and rheumatoid arthritis, as well as a better seasonal flu shot, are in the works as well. "It's clear there is a renaissance going on around vaccines," said Dr. Antony S. Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. Some think the current boom may even surpass the Golden Age of vaccine development, between the late 1940s and early 1960s, when vaccines for polio, flu, mumps and measles were discovered.

Find out more about the vaccine development boom:
- read this piece from the Los Angeles Times