Annual Conference on Vaccine Research to Highlight Not Only Health Benefits But Also Economic Gains

May 05, 2008, 01:00 ET from National Foundation for Infectious Diseases

    BETHESDA, Md., May 5 /PRNewswire/ -- Vaccines don't just keep children
 healthy, they also lead to more productive adult workers who can earn
 higher wages and save more money, according to Dr. David E. Bloom, a labor
 economist at the Harvard School of Public Health.
     Bloom, who has studied the economic impact of vaccination in developing
 countries, will be the keynote speaker at the 11th Annual Conference on
 Vaccine Research sponsored by the National Foundation for Infectious
 Diseases (NFID). The conference will be held May 5-7 at Baltimore's
 Marriott Waterfront Hotel.
     "A healthier population is a cornerstone of a vibrant and growing
 economy," Bloom said. In his analysis, Bloom turns conventional wisdom on
 its head. Although he agrees that higher incomes lead to better health, he
 also argues that better health leads to higher incomes, both for
 individuals and for nations. According to Bloom, "Healthier means
     Bloom believes that the economic value of vaccines has been grossly
 under-estimated. Typically, he said, cost-benefit studies consider the main
 benefits to be the direct medical costs that are averted because of
 vaccines. But the larger picture, he said, is that childhood vaccines lead
 to healthier, stronger and smarter adults who are more productive. By his
 estimate, in comparison with their cost, the economic benefits of
 vaccination equal or exceed the well-established economic benefits of
     "We need to significantly revise the literature on the economic value
 of vaccines to take into account these new ideas," he said.
     The three-day conference is the world's largest scientific meeting
 devoted exclusively to research on vaccines and related technologies for
 disease prevention and treatment. This year, scientists will present
 findings about the efficacy of a high-dose influenza vaccine for the
 elderly as well as advances on novel vaccines to combat everything from
 smoking to bio-terrorism to the spread of avian influenza (H5N1) on poultry
     "This is an exciting time for vaccine research," said Susan J. Rehm,
 MD, medical director of NFID and co-chair of the conference. "We are
 improving vaccines that are already in our arsenal and making progress
 toward introducing new vaccines against emerging infectious diseases, as
 well as other public-health problems."
     Dr. Merieux Award to Dr. Roger I. Glass
     This year's conference will honor Roger I. Glass, MD, PhD, director of
 the Fogarty International Center at the National Institutes of Health
 (NIH), who will receive the Charles Merieux Award for his work on rotavirus
 vaccines in the developing world. Each year, rotavirus kills more than
 500,000 children under the age of 5 in developing countries and
 hospitalizes more than 55,000 children in the United States.
     Dr. Glass, who is also associate director of international research at
 the NIH, is an expert on the prevention of gastroenteritis from rotavirus,
 which infects the intestinal lining. Dr. Glass established a Viral
 Gastroenteritis Unit at CDC which has conducted epidemiologic and
 laboratory research and provided leadership for the national and global
 rotavirus program for more than 20 years. This group has trained
 researchers from around the world and provided the evidence base that led
 to the introduction of rotavirus vaccines into the U.S. childhood
 immunization program and to surveillance activities for rotavirus in more
 than 50 countries around the world. The goal of these ongoing efforts is
 the ultimate prevention of rotavirus disease among children worldwide
 through immunization.
     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 grew 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.
     First Robert Austrian Memorial Lecture to Dr. Orin S. Levine
     Orin S. Levine, PhD, associate professor at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg
 School of Public Health, will give the conference's first Robert Austrian
 Memorial Lecture. Dr. Levine is an expert on respiratory infections in
 developing countries, including Haemophilus influenzae type B (Hib) and
 Streptococcus pneumoniae. He currently heads a $30 million effort by the
 Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunization aimed at getting pneumococcal
 vaccine to the world's poorest countries.
     The lecture is named for Dr. Robert Austrian, former chair of medical
 research at the University of Pennsylvania, who developed the first
 multivalent vaccine against pneumococcus bacteria. Dr. Austrian died in
 March 2007 at the age of 90.
     The Merieux Award is underwritten by an unrestricted educational grant
 from sanofi pasteur; the Austrian Lecture and the Hilleman Award are
 supported by unrestricted educational grants from Merck & Co, Inc.
     Dr. Barton F. Haynes, director of the Duke Human Vaccine Institute,
 will give the Mary Lou Clements-Mann Memorial Lecture on Vaccine Sciences.
 On Wednesday, the conference will announce this year's winner of the
 Maurice R. Hilleman Early Stage Career Investigator Award, which recognizes
 promising scientists who are just beginning their careers in vaccinology.
     Anti-Smoking Vaccine Keeps Nicotine from Brain
     Among the novel vaccines to be discussed at the conference is one aimed
 at curbing addiction to nicotine. Scientists from Nabi Biopharmaceuticals
 of Rockville, MD will report data showing that their experimental vaccine,
 NicVAX, induces antibodies that prevent nicotine from reaching the brain.
     In human trials, 24 percent of 61 people who smoked more than 20
 cigarettes a day quit smoking for up to one year following vaccination.
 Others who continued smoking after vaccination smoked significantly less
 than they had before. The company is now analyzing results from its Phase
 IIB trial and plans to start a Phase III trial by the end of 2008.
     One Vaccine to Combat Four Bioterrorism Agents
     U.S. Army researchers will also report success in mouse experiments
 with a four-in-one vaccine to protect against anthrax, botulism, plague and
 staphylococcus -- all of which might be used as bioterrorism agents.
     The vaccine, developed by the U.S. Army Research Institute of
 Infectious Diseases at Fort Detrich, MD along with BD Technologies of
 Research Triangle Park, NC, provided up to 100 percent protection in
 vaccinated mice that were challenged with the pathogens.
     Researchers, who will present their data, had previously reported
 success in immunizing mice with separate vaccines for each pathogen. These
 are the first results to show efficacy with one vaccine against all four
 pathogens. The vaccine has been constituted as a powder allowing for long
 shelf life, stability at different temperatures and administration in a
 variety of ways including subcutaneous injection and as a nasal spray.
     A Vaccine to Protect Poultry and People from Deadly Avian Influenza
     Researchers from the University of Pittsburgh and the U.S. Centers for
 Disease Control and Prevention will report progress toward a DNA vaccine
 against highly contagious and deadly avian influenza (influenza A/H5N1) in
     During an avian influenza outbreak in Southeast Asia in 2003-04, more
 than 100 million birds either died or had to be killed to stem the disease.
 In 2007, avian influenza claimed 11 million poultry. The contagion has had
 devastating consequences for the poultry industry and has raised concerns
 about transmission to humans. While the virus does not usually infect
 people and to-date cannot be transmitted easily from person-to-person, more
 than 200 human cases have been reported, mainly among people who have had
 close contact with poultry.
     Currently, there are two licensed vaccines to combat H5N1 in poultry,
 but the University of Pittsburgh approach is the first to make use of
 non-replicating adenovirus, a common cold virus, as a delivery vehicle to
 deliver protein from the avian influenza virus into chicken cells. The
 vaccine, which was injected into the skin of chickens, induced high levels
 of antibodies that were capable of protecting against infection with
 several different strains of influenza virus.
     The scientists say the genetically engineered vaccine could be produced
 inexpensively in large quantities for use in chickens and other poultry. If
 there was an outbreak in humans, the scientists believe the same vaccine
 could be diverted to protect people from H5N1.
     High-dose Influenza Vaccine Benefits the Elderly
     Several studies to be presented at the conference indicate that the
 elderly, who are most at risk of death from influenza, would benefit from
 high-dose influenza vaccine over standard dosage. One multi-center study,
 which involved more than 3,800 elderly persons, found significantly greater
 antibody responses a month after vaccination among those who got high-dose
 compared to standard-dose vaccine.
     The study was conducted by researchers at St. Louis University, the
 Veteran Affairs Medical Center in St. Louis, the University of Rochester
 and sanofi pasteur.
     About the Annual Conference on Vaccine Research
     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
 Disease (NFID) in collaboration with the Albert H. Sabin Vaccine Institute,
 Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, 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,
 Foundation Merieux, International Association for Biologicals,
 International Society for Vaccines, International Vaccine Institute,
 National Institute for Allergy and Infectious Diseases, The Netherlands
 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.
     Contact: Jennifer Corrigan
Phone: 732-382-8898

SOURCE National Foundation for Infectious Diseases