Inside the High-Stakes World of Vaccine Development
Vaccines are widely recognized as the most effective way we’ve got to fight infectious disease, a bulwark against a staggeringly diverse array of potentially pathogenic organisms looking to circumvent our defenses. Pervasive vaccines like those for influenza, measles, or polio offer a sense of security, but it wasn’t always so, and a range of established and emerging threats continue to present real problems. Given the physical interconnectedness of even the most remote locations with the rest of the world, esoteric pathogens have a fast track to global transmission like never before.
To Slaoui, the search for a vaccine begins with a healthy respect for evolutionary history; this battle between infectious agents and animals hosts, after all, has been raging for hundreds of millions of years. “I think we should always start from the idea that by studying how pathogens escape our immune protection,” he explains, “we will actually understand how the immune system functions, because they got there before us.”
- Health Care