Vaccines: past, present and future

Nat Med. 2005 Apr;11(4 Suppl):S5-11. doi: 10.1038/nm1209.


The vaccines developed over the first two hundred years since Jenner's lifetime have accomplished striking reductions of infection and disease wherever applied. Pasteur's early approaches to vaccine development, attenuation and inactivation, are even now the two poles of vaccine technology. Today, purification of microbial elements, genetic engineering and improved knowledge of immune protection allow direct creation of attenuated mutants, expression of vaccine proteins in live vectors, purification and even synthesis of microbial antigens, and induction of a variety of immune responses through manipulation of DNA, RNA, proteins and polysaccharides. Both noninfectious and infectious diseases are now within the realm of vaccinology. The profusion of new vaccines enables new populations to be targeted for vaccination, and requires the development of routes of administration additional to injection. With all this come new problems in the production, regulation and distribution of vaccines.

Publication types

  • Historical Article

MeSH terms

  • Allergy and Immunology / history
  • Bacterial Infections / history
  • Bacterial Infections / prevention & control
  • History, 18th Century
  • History, 19th Century
  • History, 20th Century
  • History, 21st Century
  • History, Ancient
  • History, Medieval
  • Humans
  • Vaccination / history
  • Vaccination / trends
  • Vaccines / history*
  • Virus Diseases / history
  • Virus Diseases / prevention & control


  • Vaccines