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Bypassing eggs, flu vaccine grown in insect cells shows promise

ing eggs out of the process would likely slice one or two months off the production process, Treanor said. In case of a bird-flu pandemic, that would allow manufacturers to ramp up vaccine production more quickly than if they had to wait for the production of millions of eggs. Not relying on chicken eggs might also be advisable in case a bird flu pandemic hits chicken flocks hard. The insect-cell technology also simplifies the manufacturing process in another way: A live flu virus is needed when growing vaccine in eggs, a danger when working with a potent bird-flu strain.

The technology would also help make it possible to boost the dose that patients receive, by increasing the nation’s capacity to churn out vaccine. That’s especially crucial in the fight against bird flu, as Treanor and other scientists have shown that an experimental vaccine appears to be effectively only at high doses.

The experimental vaccine differs from approved vaccines in another way as well. The experimental vaccine focuses on a portion of the flu virus known as the hemagglutinin, which the virus uses to attach to blood cells. Unlike conventional vaccines, FluBlOk does not also include neuraminidase, an enzyme that allows a flu virus to replicate and spread. While the hemagglutinin is the focus of most vaccines, scientists have been curious to measure how a vaccine without neuraminidase performs.


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Source:University of Rochester Medical Center


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