Sunday, January 16, 2011

Possible Alternative Swine Flu Vaccination

The H1N1 "Swine Flu" pandemic last winter brought into sharp relief the difficulties inherent in providing vaccination during a large pandemic. Because the vaccines are developed using an embryonated egg, they are difficult to mass produce. The supply of the vaccine depends entirely on the available supply of eggs. However scientists in Vienna have shown that it may be possible to create a viable vaccines based on insect cells instead of on eggs that could speed up the vaccine production process significantly, an important factor during an epidemic when time is of the essence. It would also limit complications with egg allergies and biosafety issues. The new method, which uses insect cells to produce H1N1 recombinant influenza virus-like particles (VLP), took less than ten weeks to produce VLPs that were used for a mouse study. Traditional egg methods take months. Hopefully these new techniques hold promise for producing larger amounts of desperately needed vaccines in crisis situations.

- Marlene

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