Medical researchers and clinical developers are working on a variety of novel vaccines, therapeutics and diagnostics to address a host of challenges in infectious disease. Many of these challenges have made recent news. The Ebola outbreak in West Africa, the first locally acquired case of Chikungunya in the United States and the appearance of Middle East Respiratory Syndrome have raised fears worldwide.
The Infectious Disease Society of America characterizes drug-resistant infections as a global pandemic, led by methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) and drug-resistant Streptococcus pneumoniae and Mycobacterium tuberculosis. A “drifted” strain of Influenza A (H3N2) dominated the news in the 2014-2015 flu season, in which CDC reported 15,249 hospitalizations and 94 pediatric deaths in the United States. Sadly, parental refusal of vaccination poses another threat to public health. Perhaps a recent measles outbreak at Disneyland will be a wake-up call for parents who ignore the pleas of care providers and public-health officials.
Addressing Infectious Disease Threats
There are things we can do about this array of threats in infectious disease. Health Decisions is contributing to the fight against infectious disease in multiple ways:
- We are teaming with DynPort Vaccine Company LLC (DVC) to provide clinical development services on a contract recently awarded by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), part of the National Institutes of Health. The prime contract, potentially worth up to $90 million over 10 years, was awarded to DVC, a Computer Sciences Corporation (CSC) company. Services under the contract will support clinical trials of infectious disease therapeutics. As a subcontractor, we expect task orders on this new contract soon. The program will test investigational products to protect against a range of viral, bacterial, parasitic and fungal pathogens. Targets will include NIAID priority biodefense pathogens and emerging and re-emerging infectious diseases.
- Our recent and planned diagnostics studies include tests for respiratory infections and HPV.
- Recent and anticipated vaccine projects include influenza vaccines and a novel vaccine for an arbovirus indication.
Can Anti-Infectives Treat Cancer Like an Infectious Disease?
Drug-resistance may be rendering some antibiotics ineffective for treatment of infections, but what if existing FDA-approved anti-infectives could find a new role as broad-spectrum oncology therapeutics? Articles in Oncotarget and Nature Reviews Drug Discovery raise this intriguing possibility. In drug development, we see challenges everywhere, work hard to overcome them and succeed a small percentage of the time. Recent success stories have mostly been about highly targeted medicines in rare indications. The idea that existing drugs may have previously unrecognized therapeutic value in a new therapeutic area and a wide range of indications is a welcome surprise.