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Vaccine Makers Target Pregnant Women

Companies including Novavax, GlaxoSmithKline, and Pfizer see big business in baby-protecting vaccines for expectant mothers. Reports Bloomberg Businessweek

     

Vaccine makers are hoping to tap an emerging market: babies in their mothers’ wombs. While researchers have long known that maternal inoculations could potentially save lives, they’ve held back in part because of concerns about risk to the fetus.

“It took me a while to figure out what the problem was,” says Carol Baker of Baylor Collage of Medicine, who’s studied a bacteria called group B streptococcus that can cause meningitis in infants. “The problem was the word ‘pregnancy’.

Companies including Novavax, GlaxoSmithKline, and Pfizer see big business in baby-protecting vaccines for expectant mothers. The companies are working on inoculations against group B strep and respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), which infects newborns’ lungs and breathing passages.

 The infections pose a serious enough threat to their health that shots could become a routine part of pregnancy. Moncef Slaoui, the retiring chairman of glaxo’s vaccines division, has said the market could ultimately be as big as the one for pediatric vaccines.

 

 

Data from Novavax’s trial of its RSV vaccine in pregnant women could be available as early as 2018. “People were looking at us with interest in the topic six years ago,” says Gregory Glenn, president for R&D at the company. “Today there’s a huge amount of affirmation, support, and optimism.” ( To read more details please subscribe to the Bloomberg Businessweek magazine ).

Dated: 27 Jul 2016

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