‘Golden era’ of vaccines is on the horizon with precision medicine

By Alexi Cohan, Boston Herald

A “golden era” of genetically tailored vaccines is on the horizon, with precision medicine aimed at killers like the flu, HIV and opioid addiction, and one Boston Children’s Hospital doctor is at the center of the global fight, driving the research forward.

“I think that in the future, we are going to enter a golden era of vaccines in the coming decades and you’re going to see more and more innovations,” said Dr. Ofer Levy, director of the Precision Vaccines program at Boston Children’s Hospital.

The key idea is that vaccine responses vary depending on a person’s age, gender or environment. That has prompted researchers, now armed with human genome information, to aim for precision vaccines, tailored to address the characteristics of different demographic groups — younger or older males or females, for example, all groups with different responses to vaccines.

“All those factors, demographic factors … can have a big impact on the ability of a vaccine to induce an immune response and on the ability for a vaccine to protect against a disease,” said Levy.

Levy and fellow researchers across the country are currently working on precision vaccines to battle influenza, HIV in at-risk South African newborns, respiratory syncytial virus and opioid addiction.

The opioid vaccine for addicted youth induces high levels of antibodies in the blood to fight off overdose. Read more …