Representative Subtheme Challenge:

HH-01: Vaccines and Biologics

In a future where vaccines and biologics have transformed public health, imagine receiving a customized vaccine, seamlessly integrated into a routine medical check-up. This vaccine, developed using breakthrough techniques, offers tailored protection against multiple viruses predicted to be circulating this season, ensuring robust defense against projected outbreaks. Its creation stems from a world where the role of biologics has been transformed to serve as pan-protective vaccines or immunomodulators, thereby revolutionizing the way we address both common and emerging health threats. These advances have significant societal and economic impacts, contributing to global health resilience, reduced healthcare costs, enhanced wellbeing, and increased longevity. This future underscores the critical importance of investing now in research and development in vaccines and biologics, affirming their vital role in sustaining and enriching lives globally.

Biologics--such as vaccines, blood and blood components, and recombinant proteins—are poised to overtake small molecules as the pharmaceutical industry's primary therapeutic products. Thus, they are likely to become significant drivers of the bioeconomy. Challenges in this domain involve designing vaccines and biologics that offer not only broader protection, but also supply chain resilience, such as avoidance of cold storage requirements, thus leading to longer shelf life, and simpler routes of administration. To advance the development and application of vaccines and biologics, there are pressing needs in multiple areas, such as computational prediction for pandemic prevention, development of mRNA and other vaccines for pathogens with pandemic potential, and innovative technologies for immune regulation and personalized immune protection. The urgency to lower costs and improve accessibility nationwide is critical, as is robust public education to boost acceptance of vaccination for public health.

CASA-Bio stakeholders representing government, industry, and non-profit sectors, identified areas of mutual interest where concerted effort among them may lead more quickly to the realization of the envisioned future. These are a few of their ideas. Research should focus on major scientific advances in vaccine and biologics technology, for example, exploring new methods for extending shelf life, non-injectable delivery methods, distributed manufacturing technologies, or pathogen-specific studies. Technology advances need to be accompanied by considerations of infrastructure to identify gaps in manufacturing pipelines and strategies for commercialization, especially for products targeting sporadic pathogens. Also important are factors related to sustainability and market viability, including public education, workforce generation, and biosecurity. We emphasize that this list is not comprehensive; we need you to help us think deeper within this subtheme!

As a member of the R&D community, you too are a CASA-Bio stakeholder, and providing your insight on R&D projects that undergird this sub-theme and lead to solutions is critical. Your ideas will matter! Your individual project ideas and those developed as part of the collaborative Town Hall process will be combined to produce an aggregate view. This view will help us understand not only the interests of the R&D community, but also what they are willing to do to advance the bioeconomy. Topics among the R&D project ideas we receive will help government, industry, and non-profit stakeholders see the potential of the US R&D community to address critical future needs and help define topics for future exploration through workshops and roadmapping.

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CASA-Bio is based upon work supported by the U.S. National Science Foundation under Contract No. 49100423P0058. Any opinions, findings and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material do not necessarily reflect the views of the U.S. National Science Foundation.
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