Vaccins de pointe

NEW YORK – L’invention des vaccins compte parmi les plus grandes réussites de l’histoire de la santé publique et individuelle. Ils ont permis d’éliminer de la surface de la planète des fléaux comme la variole, ils sont sur le point d’éliminer la poliomyélite et chaque année sauve la vie de millions de personnes, réduisant les souffrances et les coûts causés par des maladies infectieuses.

Mais il reste un grand nombre de maladies pour lesquelles des vaccins n’existent pas encore. De plus, il est peu probable que des stratégies de mise au point de vaccins qui ont réussi auparavant puissent fonctionner contre des bactéries ou des virus plus complexes, comme le VIH, qui ont développé des mécanismes multiples pour éviter le système immunitaire.

L’histoire de la vaccinologie en est une où les progrès biomédicaux et technologiques pourraient annoncer la « prochaine génération » de vaccins. Dans les années 1950, une percée a permis la culture de virus dans des cultures tissulaires ; ce qui a rendu possible la mise au point de vaccins vivants atténués et des vaccins inactivés contre la rougeole, la poliomyélite et d’autres maladies. Dans les années 1980, la technologie de recombinaison de l’ADN a mené à la mise au point de vaccins contre l’hépatite B et le virus du papillome humain.

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