Many other companies were set to present reports at the conference, including Immunovaccine, a small vaccine development company in Halifax, Nova Scotia, which is investigating a therapeutic vaccine against ovarian, breast and prostate cancer. Another was Advaxis, which has developed what it calls Listeria technology. This approach uses bioengineered bacteria to activate the immune system to treat cancer, infectious diseases or allergic syndromes. It has been used against several cancers and has been able to consistently demonstrate therapeutic responses resulting in complete tumor regression.
From private companies such as EpiVax, VaxArt and VaxDesign to the buzzing Novavax (NVAX) and Vical (VICL), vaccines seem all the rage. Researchers are looking into not just traditional vaccines for infectious diseases such as flu, AIDS, malaria and so on, but also for noninfectious diseases such as cancer and allergies. Another burgeoning field is therapeutic vaccines, which are administered after the patient becomes sick. They're being investigated in wide areas from cancer to smoking and cocaine addiction.
With pharmaceutical companies facing increasing challenges because of drugs losing patent protection, increasing generic competition and not-so-promising new-drug pipelines, vaccines could offer the next growth opportunities. Just this last quarter, vaccine sales lifted revenues at GlaxoSmithKline, AstraZeneca (AZN) and Sanofi Aventis. Novartis and Merck (MRK) are also set to get a boost from the swine flu pandemic. It's no wonder then that drugmakers are buying or making investments in this business. This trend will likely continue.