Engineering Health: How Biotechnology Changed Medicine
Chapter 3: Vaccines: The Recombinant Revolution
Published:25 Oct 2017
Special Collection: RSC Popular Science eBook CollectionProduct Type: Popular Science
Barry C. Buckland, 2017. "Vaccines: The Recombinant Revolution", Engineering Health: How Biotechnology Changed Medicine, Lara Marks
Download citation file:
Methods used to develop vaccines have undergone a revolution driven by the emergence of technology to create recombinant DNA. This chapter traces the history of the adoption of recombinant DNA in vaccine development and production and the challenges that were involved. The first time the technology was used was for a vaccine to prevent Hepatitis B infections. Its deployment not only helped improve the safety and efficacy of the vaccine, originally made from the blood of previously infected individuals, but also reduced its cost by enabling large-scale manufacture of the vaccine. Overall the technology helped transform what had started off as a highly specialized and difficult to manufacture product, only given to health practitioners, into a very safe and inexpensive vaccine that could be made available to most infants around the world. Another vaccine examined in this chapter is the one developed against the human papilloma virus, where recombinant DNA facilitated the development of a vaccine based on a virus-like particle. The final vaccine considered is for influenza, now being developed with a particular protein from the virus which is revolutionizing the ability to quickly respond to threatening new strains of the virus instead of having to adapt the virulent virus to safe propagation in cell culture.