Until recently, vaccines were largely associated with preventing disease. Applications are now emerging, with approvals forthcoming, for vaccines that treat people with specific conditions. Therapeutic vaccines target a variety of indications including addiction, multiple sclerosis, HIV, and, primarily, cancer.
Melanoma, lung, pancreas, and prostate cancers have been the primary indications targeted by cancer vaccines in development due to their commercial attractiveness. Currently, none of these therapeutic vaccines have received FDA approval, however, there are several promising products working though the pipeline. The cancer vaccine that is closest to approval is Dendreon’s Provenge vaccine for prostate cancer. The future for therapeutic vaccines overall is uncertain, but with Dendreon paving the way with clinical trials and a new business model, there is significant potential other players will follow suit in this space.
Vaccines, antigenic agents that stimulate the immune system to recognize disease, have successfully combated several ailments through the course of history. Recent technological breakthroughs around novel targets, adjuvants, and production systems are creating new avenues for market growth. A host of new vaccine companies are set to enter the market space with the potential to generate success both in emerging markets and in areas previously not addressed by vaccines. These factors will disrupt the vaccine industry, creating significant growth and opportunity that will last far beyond the flu season.