Over the last decade, Clostridium difficile (C. difficile) infection has rapidly become more prevalent. C. difficile, often abbreviated as C. diff, usually spreads through hospitals and other healthcare facilities, and the elderly are particularly vulnerable. Our society’s overuse of antibiotics has been eliminating normal microbes, allowing C. difficile to take over. Infected patients then release bacterial spores and spread the pathogen to others.
Vaccines are a promising strategy to address this critical public health issue. They are a well-established form of medicine that could be utilized to prevent illness rather than treating an existing infection. While fecal transplants also are being explored, these treatments are very new, and clinicians do not yet know the long-term effects of such procedures. Continue reading →
The accelerated arrival of novel vaccines and immunotherapies into the clinical space spurred the emergence of fields like personalized medicine, immuno-profiling and immuno-monitoring built around increasingly sophisticated testing platforms. Among them, immunoassays in the ELISpot (Enzyme-Linked ImmunoSpot) family are the most frequently used functional assays for single-cell analysis.1
Using 2017 data from Trialtrove (Citeline.com), we found that ELISpot assays were used in more than 160 open clinical trials (Figure 1). The main drivers for this rising clinical usage are:
The increased prevalence of infectious and chronic diseases as the population ages in developed countries
Extensive use of immunoassays in oncology new vaccines and immunotherapies
Technological developments, such as test automation and rapid analysis
Covance employees working to support clinical trials recognize that they are helping to move medicine forward and improve healthcare, but sometimes the impact is much closer to home.
“A client of ours was testing a new formulation of a measles, mumps, rubella and varicella (MMRV) vaccine and needed to ensure the end product was safe in pediatric populations,” explained Joshua. The Phase IV study was running smoothly but needed a Clinical Research Associate (CRA). Joshua was thrilled to take on the study and build on his experience. Continue reading →
Over the past several years, the scientific community has made tremendous progress in advancing our understanding of the immune system, from the basic functions of its various components to molecular pathways that operate within those components. With new, state-of-the-art tools and technologies, immunologists now have the ability to better understand the mechanisms of immune response to various antigens, thereby aiding them in the development of novel approaches to treat immune-system-related diseases and better design vaccines to combat infectious agents and cancer.
Currently, one of the most sensitive techniques available for the detection, measurement, and functional analysis of immune cells is the enzyme-linked immunospot (ELISPOT) assay. Covance uses the ELISPOT technique in applications such as evaluation of vaccine efficacy and immunogenicity of biological products. Continue reading →
The introduction of vaccines against Measles, Mumps, Rubella (MMR), and Varicella (the “V” in MMRV vaccines) led to a drop in the incidence of these diseases by 89% (Varicella) and 99% (MMR). These effective vaccines are a core component in most pediatric immunization programs across the world. Hence, every time a new pediatric vaccine is added to the existing immunization schedule, clinical evidence must be provided that the newcomer does not adversely influence the immunogenic response to the MMRV-licensed vaccines. These required non-inferiority studies when vaccines are co-administered (known as concomitant vaccine testing) come with their own challenges.
Chances are you’ve been hit by the respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), which infects nearly everyone by the age of 2 and usually reinfects exposed people throughout their lifetimes. While most healthy people experience mild to moderate cold-like symptoms, RSV can also cause severe infections. It has earned notoriety as the leading cause of hospital stays for newborns, and RSV-associated infections in infants cause up to 200,000 deaths per year worldwide in developed countries.
With only limited, supportive treatments to help patients with RSV, scientists at Monogram Biosciences, Inc. (part of the LabCorp Specialty Testing Group) recently examined ways to help sponsors develop an RSV vaccine or antiviral medication that can treat or even prevent this illness. Continue reading →
Whether large or small, vaccine studies differ from standard drug development in many ways. Sarah Slette, Sr. Study Manager, Vaccines & Novel Immunotherapeutics at Covance, explains the unique challenges her team faces and their solutions to rapidly deliver customized vaccine kits to sponsors’ sites across the globe.
Advancing vaccine and novel immunotherapeutic development requires focused, specialized expertise. If you are looking to reveal more efficiencies in your vaccine and novel immunotherapeutic testing strategy, consider these three best practices:
1. Apply resources specifically tailored to your development
As you advance your vaccine or novel immunotherapeutic, it’s crucial to match solutions to your needs so you make the most of your efforts. Our dedicated vaccine and novel immunotherapeutic experts offer a consultative approach to determine exactly how to meet your requirements and accelerate your program. Co-located under the same roof, our scientists and study managers assign you a single point of contact to help simplify communications and decision-making so you can concentrate on the next steps. Continue reading →
Like my colleagues at Covance, my work ultimately contributes to improving healthcare and patients’ lives. Our efforts to accelerate fresh approaches towards effective treatments became deeply personal in 2007 when my oldest sister, Vicki, was diagnosed with advanced Triple Negative Breast Cancer (TNBC).
From her initial diagnosis, my sister was full of vitality and enjoyed a high quality of life due in part to several of the novel treatments that Covance had helped develop. She even participated in a long-term clinical trial involving an angiogenesis-inhibitor, in addition to traditional chemotherapy, during her early treatment.
Vicki became a student of her diagnosis, reading countless journal articles on the rapid advances in scientific understanding. When her health took a sharp decline, she asked for my support in helping her gain access to a new trial focused on the immune system. She wanted to do whatever she could to help others find a better treatment, or even a cure, for TNBC. Ultimately, she was too weak to make the journey to participate in a cutting-edge clinical trial. Vicki died on October 1st, 2013.
Infectious diseases contribute to approximately 25% of global mortality and present critical healthcare challenges, especially in under-resourced countries. Recent research and development breakthroughs may help transform this situation. The industry is now leveraging novel analytical and bioinformatics technologies to better understand the biology and response to viral and bacteriological infections, and thereby develop more rapid and effective strategies for evaluating new therapeutic agents in clinical trials.
1. Applying lessons learned
Hepatitis C virus (HCV) therapeutics, frequently described as a breakthrough area in drug development, because it highlights the result of combining the biological understanding of disease and prioritizing appropriate resources to speed drug development. The first curative therapeutic regimens containing direct-acting agents for this important cause of liver disease were approved in 2011. Since then, seven additional regimens have received FDA approval with several more promising treatments currently in late stage clinical trials. Continue reading →