Jul
18
2006

New H5N1 vaccine trial

A new type of vaccine: New H5N1 vaccine trial. photo credit; WikiMedia,
A new type of vaccine: New H5N1 vaccine trial. photo credit; WikiMedia,

Are we ready for an avian flu pandemic?

Current flu vaccines require live chicken eggs and six months of brewing time. This method may provide too little, too late. A new, quicker, type of vaccine production and delivery system has been approved for trial in August. A company called PowderMed has produced vaccine by cloning a gene from the current circulating bird flu strain and slotting it into an existing DNA backbone vaccine. This "plug and play" system would enable rapid adaptation of the vaccine to include relevant DNA if a new and more dangerous strain develops. It is then enclosed in tiny gold particles and delivered using an injector powered by concentrated helium gas, which pushes the particles into the skin.

“We are very excited by the potential for our flu vaccine technology to address the major healthcare challenge that influenza presents, in particular in the event of an avian flu or other pandemic outbreak. Our technology has significant advantages over current flu vaccine technology particularly in terms of the speed of response in the event of a pandemic. As soon as a new influenza strain becomes known, our “plug and play” system would enable us to rapidly insert the relevant DNA gene cassette into our standard DNA backbone. A PowderMed manufacturing facility will be capable of delivering the vaccine requirements of an entire country within 3 months. This is not possible for other technologies.”
Just 1.2kg of vaccine DNA would be sufficient to vaccinate the entire population of the US twice - an initial dose and a booster dose. PowderMed has carried out a detailed feasibility study with contract manufacturing partners, which concludes that it could establish a manufacturing capability with a surge capacity of 150 million influenza vaccine doses in a three-month period. Dr Dix points out that this is critical since, “No other vaccine technology offers this speed of response. In the event of a pandemic, most deaths and illness will occur in the first six months of an outbreak. We believe that our technology offers the best potential to save lives and minimise the economic impact of a flu pandemic.” Dr Clive Dix, CEO of PowderMed

Sources:
Reuters
PowderMed press release(pdf)

Your Comments, Thoughts, Questions, Ideas

Liza's picture
Liza says:

Hey, Art,

Is the PowderMed technique/vaccine the same as the one described in this post?

posted on Tue, 07/18/2006 - 12:43pm

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