Vaccine Facility Targets Expedited Production To Fight Pandemics

I often find myself asking the question, “If there should be a deadly pandemic at the moment, will it be possible for researchers to develop vaccines in mass quantities in as low as 24 hours to curb the spread of the pandemic”?

In 2016, Mitsubishi Tanabe Pharm made the announcement that they are making advancement in a process that would make use of tobacco leaves to create influenza vaccines within a month. This was a great relief because the current time for the production of that vaccine was 6 months. Cutting down the production time by a sixth is in no small measure a great advancement in medicine that deserves lots of accolades.

The time for the commercial use of the product was placed between 2018 and 2019. This time was to let the company determine the safety and effectiveness of the vaccine in Canada and the United States. Inasmuch as one month is a great time to have a vaccine ready, I was thinking about the possibility of even cutting down the production time to as low as 24 hours.

Others Are Also Asking My Question

I came across this appealing story of Geoffrey Ling, a United States Army doctor that was in Afghanistan in 2003. He mentioned that his greatest problem was getting medicines to patients when they need it. As he mentioned,

I wanted to have a machine that could make any drug at any time in any quantity for providers in situations l was in, austere situations where they have to take care of patients.

Source: C&EN

Many years later he found himself in the position to implement such a reform when he became the program manager of the U.S Defense Advanced Research Project Agency (DARPA). In 2010, he was allowed by the leadership to start a program on battlefield medicine. He threw the challenge to researchers to dig up a way that will make it possible to develop biopharmaceuticals and small molecules in 24 hours.

The same way I was excited when I discovered researchers were turning the deadly zika virus into a cure for cancer was the same way I felt when I read that two DARPA-funded research teams reported the use of modular systems that had the potential to produce protein therapeutics on demand. If this system and similar others become a success, it can drastically cut down the production cost of vaccines and make it easy to send these vaccines around the globe within a short time.

Why It Is Important To Get Ready?

Many disease-causing organisms including viruses (especially the influenza virus) have a great propensity to mutation. When these organisms mutate, what usually happens is that the available drugs lose their potency on them. If there is a deadly outbreak, for example, in which we have no available vaccination or medication to combat and we have to wait for as long as six months to get a medication, it would probably give the organism enough time to cause irreparable damage.

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