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At GSK, each vaccine goes through a rigorous safety and efficacy process to ensure it meets all safety and health regulations before being approved for use in the general population.

Richard Moran

It can take decades to develop a new vaccine that will help fight life-threatening diseases

Prevention is often better than a cure in fighting disease.

When it comes to developing and delivering vaccines that help prevent life-threatening diseases such as measles, rubella and HIV/AIDS, research and delivery can take up to thirty years, triple the time of most other pharmaceutical products.

“Developing vaccines is a complex process that requires finding the right balance between cause and prevention,” says Dr. Alex Romanovschi, medical director at Mississauga-based GlaxoSmithKline Inc., the Canadian unit of global pharmaceutical firm GlaxoSmithKline PLC (GSK).

Pathogens – such as bacteria, viruses, or other microorganisms have the potential to cause diseases.

Vaccines are made by using either parts or small amounts of the disease-causing virus or bacteria which have been killed or weakened. Vaccines stimulate your immune system to make antibodies against the disease-causing organism without having to get the disease. This means that if a person has been vaccinated and comes in contact with the disease-causing organism in the future, the immune system is already prepared to fight off the infection and provide future protection.

“The challenge in vaccine development is to find the balance between the pathogen that will trigger our natural immunity and providing protection,” Romanovschi says.

Today, millions still die from preventable diseases.

At GSK we believe prevention is better than cure.

That’s why we deliver over 2 million vaccines every day to help protect people from diseases like Flu, Meningitis and Polio.

Now using breakthrough technologies, we are working to develop new vaccines for diseases previously beyond our reach such as, HIV/AIDS and Malaria.

Because the more diseases we prevent, the more lives we save.

Global leader in vaccines

GSK’s legacy of developing vaccines began in the 1960s when the company developed the first measles vaccine, followed by the first rubella vaccine in the 1970s. Today, GSK has the most comprehensive vaccines portfolio in the industry, for children, teenagers, adults, the elderly and travellers.

At GSK, each vaccine goes through a rigorous safety and efficacy process to ensure it meets all safety and health regulations before being authorized for sale to the general public, the company says. After a vaccine is made available to the wider public, the vaccine continues to be monitored for safety and efficacy.

Today GSK delivers over two million vaccine doses per day to people living in over 160 countries.

How GSK discovers new vaccines

Research: A pathogen must be identified and thoroughly researched – often in conjunction with academic institutions – to understand its characteristics, including the specific component that will trigger the body’s immune response.
Discovery: Every disease has its own characteristics, which means every vaccine needs to be developed with those specific characteristics in mind. Scientists must figure out how to either reduce the strength of the pathogens or deactivate them for safe use in vaccines.
Preclinical testing: This is the intensive investigation stage typically conducted in a laboratory to hypothesize how the body will react to the vaccine.
Clinical trials: This stage requires testing on humans to see how the vaccines work. There are three phases to this stage. Phase 1 involves a small group of volunteers to gauge effectiveness, dose tolerance and safety. Phase 2 involves a larger group of volunteers and solidifies elements such as dosage and the potential need for booster shots. Phase 3 involves thousands of volunteers and evaluates the response to the vaccine from those who are at risk from the disease.
Regulatory data: All data from trials are submitted to regulators.
Supply, manufacturing and shipping: This stage ensures the vaccine can be manufactured at a variety of facilities, so that it can be properly shipped and that supply can meet demand.
Monitoring: After the vaccine is introduced to the market, there is continuous monitoring from a variety of independent regulators to assess the vaccine’s ongoing safety and effectiveness.

Mark Read

The priority of any vaccine manufacturer is the safety and protection of everyone’s health, he says, which is why vaccines undergo thorough safety and efficacy evaluations for years through independent laboratory testing, intensive clinical trials and continued monitoring after its production.

“While we often think of vaccines as something we administer in childhood,” he adds, “it’s important to note that vaccines are to be considered throughout our lifetime.

Every day, GSK delivers two million vaccines all over the globe to help stop the spread of some of the world’s most contagious and deadly diseases, such as measles, meningitis, typhoid, and cholera Romanovschi says.

It's a role the pharmaceutical maker says it is honoured to play.

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Advertising feature produced by Globe Content Studio. The Globe’s editorial department was not involved.

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