Vaccines have been with us since at least 1796 when they were first used to prevent small-pox infection. Vaccines are now an integral part of our lives and biomedical engineers are working full-time to improve their range and effectiveness, which have all but wiped out cases of Diphtheria, Yellow fever, small-pox and German measles in many parts of the western hemisphere.

A vaccine is a biological preparation that promotes immunity to a particular disease. Traditionally vaccines contain part or whole micro-organisms that have been altered in such a way that they are no longer a threat to life. When a vaccine is administered to a body the immune system recognizes the foreign organism  and quickly neutralizes the threat, and in so doing remembers the microbe should a more virulent version attack later on.

There are two types of vaccine; prophylactic vaccines are those which prevent or improve the effects of an infection. Therapeutic vaccines such as cancer vaccines are being developed to treat and prevent the occurrence of cancer.

Research into these particular class of vaccine have had a neutral response in the field over recent years due to mixed results, however scientists are now reporting that they may have made a breakthrough. Mood is quite high this time around as many pharmaceutical companies are licensing new vaccines in readiness.

It is hoped these latest developments and general re-surge in interest will make the US Government think about halting the sweeping cuts planned to spending on vaccines in a bid to cut federal spending. If the cuts go ahead it could mean a significant drop in the amount spent in researching new therapeutic vaccines.