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Bypassing eggs, flu vaccine grown in insect cells shows promise

funded by the company of 460 healthy people ages 18 to 49, one-third of the participants received a smaller dose of the vaccine (75 micrograms), one-third received a larger dose (135 micrograms), and one-third received a placebo shot that didn’t include vaccine. Each of the “real?shots included vaccine designed to protect against the three strains of flu that had been predicted to be the greatest threat during the 2004-2005 winter, when the study was conducted.

As the scientists expected, both the smaller dose and the larger dose caused an immune reaction generally considered effective for fighting off the flu, with the larger dose creating a stronger immune response. The side effects of the vaccine were the same as those usually reported from a typical flu shot ?mainly mild arm pain.

Then, in the months that followed, there were seven cases of flu in the group that had not received the vaccine, compared to two cases in the group that received the smaller dose, and no cases in the group that received the larger dose. Together, the two vaccines reduced flu infection rate by 86 percent.

“Even though the study was small, the results are very promising,?said Treanor, who is professor of Medicine and of Microbiology and Immunology and director of the Vaccine and Treatment Evaluation Unit at the University of Rochester. “While we certainly hoped and expected the vaccine to be protective, you don’t know that until you actually test it. We’ve shown that the vaccine does work in the real world.?

Freedom from the egg brings implications important to a world facing the threat of pandemic bird flu.

For decades the nation’s efforts to prevent flu have centered on growing flu virus in hundreds of millions of fertilized eggs, with each egg containing less than a teaspoonful of material that will ultimately become part of a vaccine. It’s typically a six-month process to produce enough flu vaccine to protect the public.

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Source:University of Rochester Medical Center


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