Multiple bioagent vaccines in the pipeline

Scientists in the United States are working on a number of vaccines intended to lessen the threat posed by agents of bioterrorism.

There are currently ten separate treatments in development by biopharmaceutical companies to treat the devastating disease anthrax, according to BusinessWire.

Although naturally occurring smallpox was eradicated in 1980, it is still considered a major potential bioterror weapon, and there are currently three treatments in development to use against it.

The development of a new treatment or vaccine usually takes between ten and 15 years to complete from the laboratory to approval by the Food and Drug Administration, BusinessWire reports, and average costs can run as high as $1.3 billion.

Overall in 2010, there are 395 new medicines and vaccines to fight infections that are in clinical trials or under FDA review.

Increasingly, attention is being paid to bioterror agents and “super bugs” that are resistant to known treatments. In the United States alone, 2 million drug-resistant infections are reported every year, costing a total of $34 billion annually, according to the Infectious Disease Society.

Only two percent of staphylococcus infections were drug resistant in 1974, but that percentage grew to 64 in 2004. Staph infections will kill an estimated 215,000 people in 2010, more people than will die of AIDS, according to the Centers for Disease Control.