Chronic Disease Vaccines Need Shot in the Arm

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Science  21 Sep 2012:
Vol. 337, Issue 6101, pp. 1479-1481
DOI: 10.1126/science.337.6101.1479

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It's difficult enough to develop and obtain approval for a traditional vaccine against a bacterium or virus, let alone create one that rouses the immune system to target molecules that drive a chronic disease such as obesity. Potential vaccines for hypertension, asthma, Alzheimer's disease, obesity, and smoking (because it is a risk factor for heart disease, cancer, stroke, and more) have all been hyped in recent years and then suffered high-profile failures. Vaccine developers also face the problem that society largely views addiction and obesity as moral failures rather than chronic diseases. It's difficult to persuade drug companies and the general population to invest in treating something they view as a failure of willpower with an intervention like a vaccine. But researchers aren't giving up.

  • * Bijal Trivedi is a freelance writer in Washington, D.C.