How we research new vaccines

We invest in scientific and technical excellence to develop and launch new innovative vaccines that meet the needs of patients and payers.

We have recently introduced breakthrough vaccines for shingles and meningitis B. We balance our focus on this robust pipeline with the active life-cycle management of our existing vaccines, helping to protect more people through expanded indications and geographies.

We have developed vaccines against 21 of the 31 diseases currently preventable by vaccination to help protect people at all stages of their life. We’re advancing our adjuvant technologies designed to enhance the immune response to vaccines. This is especially important for those who tend to respond poorly to vaccination, for example, immune-compromised patients and the older population.

Continued advances in technology, combined with a greater understanding of science and the human body means that we are now able to explore and – in the future - deliver new medical breakthroughs for some of the world’s biggest health challenges.

Our vaccines R&D efforts are centred around discovering and developing prophylactic and therapeutic vaccines to protect people against infectious diseases. Every disease has its own characteristics, and developing a vaccine to protect against any specific disease requires a unique approach.

Most diseases are caused by pathogens - typically viruses, bacteria or parasites - that attack the body’s natural immune system. Vaccines use inactivated or attenuated forms of these pathogens - or small inactive parts of them - to stimulate our natural immunity and so provide protection against infection.

The challenge faced by our scientists is to develop vaccines that incorporate the appropriate pathogen or component of the pathogen which will trigger our own immunity and provide protection against the actual pathogen.

Every disease, infectious or not, has its own challenges. Once a pathogen associated with a particular disease has been identified by our scientists, the specific part of the pathogen that induces the appropriate protective immune response needs to be identified. We often conduct this research in partnership with academic institutions, as they have a deep understanding of disease biology and pathology.

Leveraging cutting edge technologies

The cutting-edge range of technologies we use to develop new vaccines allows us to potentially test faster, simplify production, reduce costs and address unmet medical needs. Adjuvants, SAM (Self Amplifying Messenger RNA), Bioconjugates and GMMA (Generalised Modules for Membrane Antigens) are just a few examples of the technology we use.

Digital transformation

Improved understanding of biology is fueling the development of novel, targeted vaccines. In parallel, the rise of digital technologies and data analytics is creating new opportunities to understand the effect of interventions on diseases. GSK is building on these advances by using reverse vaccinology, innovative trial designs and other techniques to accelerate vaccine discovery and development. Effectively harnessed, GSK believes these advances will have a strong contribution to improving health outcomes.

Co-creating the vaccines of the future

Our investment in breakthrough vaccines technologies creates a real point of differentiation and will deliver further benefits in the future. We have more than 2,500 vaccines scientists working in three global R&D centres, in Belgium, Italy and the US. This international spread equips us with a diversity of skills and culture, helps to attract the best talent, and opens doors to external partnerships.

This is why we’ve formed over 150 external scientific collaborations at GSK Vaccines – including life science companies, academia, charities, non-governmental organisations and beyond – each with the sole aim of advancing the frontiers of disease prevention.

Global Health

Our new global health strategy aims to improve global health impact through R&D for infectious diseases that affect children in developing countries, focusing on HIV, malaria and tuberculosis (TB).

We are finding the innovative science and platforms discovered through global health R&D can be amplified commercially. For example, the adjuvant used in our RTS,S malaria vaccine has been pivotal to the success of our shingles vaccine and is being used in our TB candidate vaccine and a number of other vaccines in development.