New bird flu vaccine may offer long-term protection

New bird flu vaccine may offer long-term protection

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May 14, 2008

West LaFayette, Ind. - 5/14/08 - A vaccine that could offer protection from highly pathogenic bird flu and its evolving forms is under development by Purdue University and Centers for Disease Control (CDC) researchers.

Currently being tested in mice, the new vaccine has shown to offer protection against H5N1 for a year or longer, and could be quickly produced and stored for long periods making it ideal in the event of an outbreak, says Suresh Mittal, Purdue virologist. It has yet to be tested on humans.

"In humans, we want a vaccine to be fully effective for at least a year," says Mittal, a professor of comparative pathobiology. "How long it will last in humans we don't know yet." A long-lasting, broadly protective vaccine is needed to prevent against the spread of H5N1 mutations.

Made from eggs, current bird-flu vaccines can take up to six months to create. The new technology uses an adjuvant to stimulate the body's immune system, allowing lower vaccination doses to have the same effectiveness and the ability to stockpile the drug.

"Adenoviral vector-based pandemic vaccines are an attractive option for developing countries, where egg-independent cell-based vaccine technologies for other vaccines already are available," says Suryaprakash Sambhara, the project's CDC principal investigator. "Since this process is already in place, our vaccine could be produced locally at an affordable price."

Testing the vaccine's effectiveness against new, mutating viruses is the next step in research, Mittal says.

The project is funded by the National Vaccine Program Office and the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.