Data and Analytics, Vaccines

In Silico Vaccine Design: Accelerating the Response to BioThreats and Emerging Infectious Disease

Lenny Moise, Sarah Beseme, and Anne S. De Groot / IQT Quarterly Winter 2016

Why Do We Need Vaccines?

Smallpox, polio, measles — control of these lethal diseases is possible because of vaccines. Vaccines are not only the most effective way to eradicate an infectious disease, but are also critically important for protecting first responders and noncombatant (civilian) populations from the consequences of a bioterror event. The U.S. government has expended substantial resources to protect the nation against a potential bioterror event, creating specialized planning and preparedness units within the Departments of State, Defense, Energy, Agriculture, Homeland Security, and Health and Human Services in an e ort to comply with the World Health Organization’s (WHO) International Health Regulations. These agencies work together to accelerate progress toward a world “safe and secure from infectious disease threats” within the frame of
the recent five-year Global Health Security Agenda (2014-2018). Several federally subsidized advanced development and manufacturing production facilities in different regions of the country are capable of producing millions of doses of protein-based vaccines. Unfortunately, despite these important advances in the strategic preparedness of U.S. agencies for biodefense, vaccine design remains a significant obstacle to national biodefense. Director of Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA) Robin Robinson recently stated, “We can produce vaccines faster, but we also need to make vaccines more effective”. This is particularly true for the very real threat of new pathogens, for which little is known about the critical antigenic determinants and correlates of immunity, the key parameters used in conventional vaccine design.

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