Last week during the 'Vaccines for Biothreats and Emerging and Neglected Diseases Symposium' in Galveston TX, USA, the Elsevier journal Vaccine released a supplement dedicated to vaccines for biodefence. This publication provides a comprehensive, state-of-the-art overview on vaccines that have been developed against a diverse group of human and veterinary pathogens, including Bacillus anthracis, smallpox, and blue tongue.
Biodefence has traditionally been associated with defence against biological warfare agents with an emphasis on military applications. However, the events of October 2001 involving envelopes containing anthrax spores sent through the US Postal Service radically changed our thinking about biodefence. We now recognise the need for biodefence to protect both civilian and military populations against biothreat agents. As research continues to develop biodefence countermeasures, it is clear that vaccines are a critical component of the portfolio to control biothreats.
In their editorial in the supplement, the US Guest Editors Alan Barrett (University of Texas Medial Branch), Shan Lu (University of Massachusetts), and Greg Poland (Mayo Clinic Vaccine Research Group) state that, 'the progress in development of vaccines for biothreat agents has been remarkable due to the combined efforts of academia, biotechnology companies, larger pharma, governments, and regulatory authorities, and it is our hope that this supplement may serve as a milestone for this process and a useful reference for people interested in knowing the current status of biodefence vaccine development.'
The supplement was launched at the 3rd in a series of symposia around the theme of, 'The Changing Landscape of Vaccine Development,' organised by the Sealy Centre for Vaccine Development at the University of Texas Medical Branch in Galveston TX, USA in conjunction with the James W. McLaughlin Fellowship Fund (www.utmb.edu/scvd/).
The symposium Co-Chair and Co-Guest Editor of the Vaccine Supplement, Alan Barrett judged the conference a great success and said: 'By focusing on the progression of biodefence vaccine development from bench to bedside the symposium very successfully brought together experts from industry, academia and government to discuss the latest developments in discovery, preclinical development, clinical trials and vaccine acceptance.'