BETHESDA, Md.—Looking to strengthen and expand its national network of vaccine and treatment evaluation units (VTEUs), the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) announced the awarding of eight new contracts to institutions across the country. Each VTEU will receive approximately $23.7 million over seven years to increase the number of clinical trials, using larger volunteer populations of wider scope, including the typically underevaluated infants and elderly.
"In more than four decades of research, the VTEUs have conducted hundreds of clinical trials of investigational vaccines and therapeutics for a variety of infectious diseases of public health concern, and many of these trials have contributed to the licensure of products," says NIAID Director Dr. Anthony Fauci. "We expect this success to continue, as each VTEU has exceptional expertise and experience in vaccinology and an impressive capacity to recruit volunteers from diverse populations in its community."
The move comes at a critical time for the pharmaceutical and biotech industries as more companies are exploring the world of vaccines with mixed success. For example, at the same time that Merck is riding high on the widespread success and rapid uptake of its HPV vaccine Gardasil, it is also monitoring public concerns over the safety of its experimental AIDS vaccine, which the company pulled from trial in September.
Despite the concerns, the market is growing rapidly. According to a recent report by Kalorama Information, the global market for vaccines is expected to surpass the $10-billion mark in 2007 and may reach $15 billion by 2012, with cancer vaccines taking the lion's share.