Vaccines in the modern world

Published on October 29, 2009 Archived on January 15, 2020   39 min

A selection of talks on Infectious Diseases

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My name is Professor Gordon Dougan. And I work at the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute at the University of Cambridge in Cambridge, England. I am currently head of pathogen research at the Sanger. But for many years, I worked in industry. During that time, I was involved in vaccine discovery, development, and production.
Today, I'm going to talk to you about how I believe vaccines fit into the modern world. To achieve that, we'll start off by talking about what vaccines are. We'll then talk about how vaccines are made and what they're made of. I'll talk to you a little bit about how they work. But then I'll go through a number of specific examples of real vaccines. We'll start off with vaccines which are well established. And many of them, you will have heard of and might even have received yourself. We'll talk about vaccines, which are in the development phase, which are being prepared for sale, but they're not quite there yet, and might cover new diseases. And I'll finish off by talking about emerging technologies and how these technologies might transform vaccines in the future. I feel that we're in a very exciting period for vaccine research. We call this field the area of vaccinology at the moment. And I'll try and get across to you during this lecture why I feel there are so many opportunities in the field.
What are vaccines? Vaccines are used to prevent disease by stimulating immunity. But they do this without causing disease. They are normally made from either live attenuated microorganisms or their nonliving components. By attenuated, we mean live organisms that have been modified, so that they do not cause disease. But they can still stimulate immunity. Now, vaccines are used prophylactically in healthy people. That means, we use in before people actually get ill, unlike normal drugs. Now, vaccines can theoretically be used therapeutically to treat disease. But so far, we don't have any licensed therapeutic vaccines. Molecular sciences are revolutionizing our understanding of infection and immunity. And this is triggering a golden age of vaccine development. We've had more new vaccines made in the last 10 to 15 years than in the previous 100. A good example is the new vaccine against papilloma or cervical cancer. So the important point really here is that vaccines are used to prevent disease before disease starts. And this distinguishes them from drugs.