Certainly so! The principle behind vaccinations is to trigger an immune response that will provide us with antibodies to prevent infection in the future. This goal can be accomplished through a variety of mechanisms that are encompassed in 4 globally recognized types of vaccines:
- Live-attenuated vaccines, where a weakened version of the pathogen is used to stimulate the body’s immune response. Measles for example is synthesized this way.
- Inactivated or killed vaccines are those where whole-pathogens are inactivated. Treated chemically or with radiation, the viruses are inactivated while leaving enough proteins to stimulate the body’s immune response. Hepatitis A, the Flu shot, the Polio shot, and Rabies are examples of killed vaccines.
- Biosynthetic Vaccines: these are formed by manmade substances that are almost structurally identical to the pathogen and can trigger antibody production for the disease in question. Subunit, recombinant, polysaccharide, and conjugate vaccines are all types of biosynthetic vaccines. Hepatitis B is an example of this type.
- Toxoid vaccines: these target toxins released by the invading organism. Harvested from cultures, these toxins are chemically treated to neutralize their effect. As we see in DPT shots, toxoid vaccines often must be combined with adjuvants to increase the immune response.
Vaccine development is a field with extensive ongoing research where new approaches are constantly on the horizon. DNA plasmid vaccines and recombinant vector vaccines are both great examples of promising new pathways. While not yet approved for human use, many predict that the new decade will allow for safe vaccines with genetic bases. The advantages of nucleic acid vaccinations could be revolutionary by both reducing risk and extending immunity.
How are vaccines developed?
While all types of vaccines are used against different pathogens, not all are created equal. Several factors are taken into account when developing new vaccines including immunity, associated risk, stability, cost, or scalability. Here we provide a comparison of the 4 types that currently lead the industry according to the NIH:
*Vulnerable populations such as infants, pregnant women, and those with a compromised immune system are taken into consideration while evaluating risk.
**Cost is evaluated on a relative basis taking stability and ease of transportation as factors into consideration. This list is subjective only intended for general education purposes.
Scientific break-throughs in the R&D stage of vaccine development are also one of the determining factors. What do we know about the structure and mechanisms of pathogen infection? What has been effective in the past against similar pathogens?
How can UV LED technology help?
It is a long since known fact that UV light can deactivate and destroy different types of microorganisms such as RNAse or bacteria, as well as chemicals. UV LEDs can now be used to target specific bonds, and with our KeyPro instruments, we can accurately control the light output from low to high and at varying durations. Certainly LED UV lights can be used to help in the study of vaccines, but can they perhaps even aid in the manufacturing of such?