Posted: Thursday, May 23, 2013 3:05 pm
Journal editorial board
As the U.S. grapples with problems associated with vaccines – in terms of cost and avail-ability – North Carolina is poised to provide a solution. Dr. Steven B. Mizel, a professor of microbiology and immunology at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center, is organizing the North Carolina Center for Vaccine Innovation, an initiative to bring new vaccines to market in a cost-conscious, efficient way. If his program is successful – and we predict it will be – it will turn a profit and will enhance our city’s standing as an innovative prime mover.
The program would be headquartered in Wake Forest Innovation Quarter, our research park, but take advantage of statewide academic researchers and educational facilities – such as those of UNC Chapel Hill, East Carolina University, Wake Forest University and Duke University – involved in vaccine-related studies.
“The big holdup in vaccines is moving these vaccines from the laboratory to the clinic,” Mizel recently told the Journal’s Wesley Young. “It is fairly slow and expensive. For re-searchers who need help in making this happen, one of the goals is to create packages of attractively priced services that will help vaccines move through preclinical development.”
The project has found a champion in state Sen. Pete Brunstetter, who is co-chairman of the state Senate Appropriations/Base Budget Committee.
“Vaccine innovation is the new cutting-edge operation for medicine and pharmaceuti-cals,” Brunstetter told the Journal. He noted the overuse of antibiotics, which become less effective over time – another problem that can be solved with the use of vaccines.
As if that’s not enough, the project also promises to create new jobs – between 100 and 1,000 by Mizel’s estimate – by contracting with local companies to produce the vaccines. Mizel wants to raise about $20 million to get started; two million per year for the next two fiscal years has been earmarked in the state Senate’s proposed budget. He’s also seeking financial support from the governor’s office, the Golden LEAF Foundation and the private sector.
Vaccines are the trend of the future, and we’re well positioned to ride this future wave.