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U.S. Closer to Viable Swine Flu Shot
Date:5/24/2009

Ingredients being tested could be sent to manufacturers by month's end, CDC says

SUNDAY, May 24 (HealthDay News) -- U.S, health officials reported progress towards a viable H1N1 swine flu vaccine this week, with experts at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention saying they had two promising candidate viruses for use in such a shot.

"Today CDC received, from one institution, a candidate vaccine virus," Dr. Anne Schuchat, the CDC's interim deputy director for science and public health program, said during a news conference on Friday.

The strain was created by "combining the genes of the novel H1N1 virus with other parts from other viruses," Schuchat explained. This type of hybrid virus will grow more easily in eggs -- an essential part of the vaccine production process.

The CDC, along with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, has also created a second candidate virus using reverse genetics, Schuchat said.

The CDC is testing both viruses to make sure they can stimulate an optimal immune response, Schuchat said. "After that work is done suitable viruses will be sent out to manufacturers. We expect by the end of May that will happen," she said.

Also Friday, Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius announced that the federal government was allocating $1 billion to the search for a swine flu vaccine, the Associated Press reported. The funding is aimed at pilot testing of a vaccine and the setting up of a "pre-pandemic" stockpile that HHS said would cover at least 20 million people, including health-care workers and people at high risk for complications from the illness.

In related news, a study released on Friday suggests that many of the genes that make up the new H1N1 swine flu virus have been circulating undetected in pigs for more than a decade.

Scientists at the CDC and elsewhere sequenced the genomes of dozens of samples of t
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