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UW scientists report a new method to speed bird flu vaccine production

pproved for vaccine production, it is not always easy to introduce plasmids into the monkey kidney cells, which are approved for such use," says Kawaoka, an influenza expert and a professor of pathobiological sciences in UW-Madison's School of Veterinary Medicine. Monkey kidney cells are used routinely for generation of seed strains for vaccine production because they are not known to carry any unknown infectious agents and do not cause tumors.

According to Kawaoka, "application of the new system may be especially advantageous in situations of outbreaks of highly pathogenic avian influenza viruses."

When a new strain of highly virulent influenza emerges to infect humans, vaccine makers must tailor their vaccines to match it because, genetically, the virus is always different. The process is a race against time and can take months depending on how quickly new strains are identified, genetically disarmed and subsequently generated in the lab for use to make vaccines in large quantities. The new technique promises to ensure ready generation of seed strains for the production of vaccines required to blunt the spread of influenza. In the event of an outbreak of especially virulent strains of influenza, such as the H5N1 or "bird flu" viruses now being monitored by scientists, any efficiency in the manufacture of vaccines will be important.

The method devised by Kawaoka and his colleagues reduces the number of plasmids required to introduce viral genes into the monkey kidney cell lines used to mass produce the deactivated virus for use in vaccine manufacture. "By reducing the number of plasmids, we increase the efficiency of virus production," Kawaoka explains.

In addition to Kawaoka, the new PNAS report was authored by Neumann of the UW-Madison School of Veterinary Medicine, Ken Fujii of the University of Tokyo's Institute of Medical Sciences, and Yoichiro Kino of Japan's Chemo-Sero Therapeutic Research Institute. The work was funded by gr
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Source:University of Wisconsin-Madison


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