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European Biopharmaceutical Review

Vaccine Victories Against Microbial Resistance

Over the last century, humans were winning the war against microbes, and both antibiotics and vaccines have greatly reduced death and illness due to infectious disease, eliminating or quickly curing many once-common life-threatening diseases. Both antibiotics and vaccines have become indispensable to medical practice. However, microbes are now resurging by developing antibiotic resistance. Pneumococcal pneumonia was successfully treated with penicillin and other antibiotics for decades, but antibiotic resistance emerged as a significant problem in the years before 2000. When the highly effective pneumococcal conjugate vaccine was introduced, it reduced disease incidence in the children of routinely immunised countries, but left many low-income children unprotected and susceptible to antibiotic-resistant infections. For instance, in Saudi Arabia, before the pneumococcal conjugate vaccine was introduced, 59% of streptococcal isolates were found to be penicillin resistant, and 14% were highly resistant (1).

Growing Problem

Antibiotic resistance results in the deaths of about 700,000 people annually, a number that is steadily growing (2). This is a problem even in wealthy countries with excellent healthcare systems, such as the US, where about two million antibiotic resistant infections occur every year, with about 1 in 100 resulting in death (3).

The problem is not restricted to location or pathogen type, and some ‘extensively drug-resistant’ types of most common pathogens now exist. Some pathogens can be effectively prevented by vaccination, but even with these – such as pneumococcal pneumonia – in areas of low vaccine coverage, children can suffer from antibiotic-resistant strains. However, ‘vaccine resistance’ is never seen in strains for which a vaccine has been developed.

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Dr Donald F Gerson is President and CEO of PnuVax and has many years’ experience in vaccine and biopharmaceutical manufacturing management. He is the former President and Chief Operating Officer of Celltrion and was also previously Managing Director for manufacturing at Wyeth-Lederle Vaccines and Pediatrics. Donald has produced many vaccines to prevent and treat bacterial infections, as well as experimental vaccines for HIV and other diseases. He has founded many biotechnology companies around the world and has a PhD in biophysics from McGill University, Canada.

Jonas Elliott Gerson is co-founder and Director of Operations at PnuVax. He oversees vaccine manufacturing operations, including those for pneumonia and yellow fever. He has a MASc in chemical engineering from Queen’s University, Canada.

Allison Turner is co-founder and Director of Product Development at PnuVax. She leads the vaccines R&D team with a focus on pneumonia. Allison held academic research and teaching appointments until joining PnuVax in 2008. Allison has a MASc in chemical engineering from Queen’s University, Canada.

Dr Gail Meadows is Head of Compliance at PnuVax and has many years of experience in industrial vaccine and biopharma R&D, validation and quality systems. She has a PhD from the University of Western Ontario, Canada.
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Dr Donald F Gerson
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Jonas Gerson
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Allison Turner
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Gail Meadows
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