Date of Original Version
The integrated US Public Health Emergency Medical Countermeasures Enterprise (PHEMCE) has made great strides in strategic preparedness and response capabilities. There have been numerous advances in planning, biothreat countermeasure development, licensure, manufacturing, stockpiling and deployment. Increased biodefense surveillance capability has dramatically improved, while new tools and increased awareness have fostered rapid identification of new potential public health pathogens. Unfortunately, structural delays in vaccine design, development, manufacture, clinical testing and licensure processes remain significant obstacles to an effective national biodefense rapid response capability. This is particularly true for the very real threat of “novel pathogens” such as the avian-origin influenzas H7N9 and H5N1, and new coronaviruses such as hCoV-EMC. Conventional approaches to vaccine development, production, clinical testing and licensure are incompatible with the prompt deployment needed for an effective public health response. An alternative approach, proposed here, is to apply computational vaccine design tools and rapid production technologies that now make it possible to engineer vaccines for novel emerging pathogen and WMD biowarfare agent countermeasures in record time. These new tools have the potential to significantly reduce the time needed to design string-of-epitope vaccines for previously unknown pathogens. The design process—from genome to gene sequence, ready to insert in a DNA plasmid—can now be accomplished in less than 24 h. While these vaccines are by no means “standard,” the need for innovation in the vaccine design and production process is great. Should such vaccines be developed, their 60-d start-to-finish timeline would represent a 2-fold faster response than the current standard.
De Groot, A. S., Einck, L., Moise, L., Chambers, M., Ballantyne, J., Malone, R. W., Ardito, M., & Martin, W. (2013). Making vaccines 'on demand.' Human Vaccines & Immunotherapeutics, 9(9), 1877-1884.
Available at: http://dx.doi.org/10.4161/hv.25611