Washington, Jan 30: Scientists at the University of Pittsburgh have developed a new vaccine against the deadliest strain of the H5N1 virus to counter the continued threat to global health.
According to scientists the vaccine created a strong immune response in mice and protected them from death following infection with the H5N1 virus and it has also being tested in humans in an early-phase clinical trial. Ted M. Ross, lead author of the study and assistant professor, Centre for Vaccine Research, University of Pittsburgh said that to stop the spread of the disease it is necessary to have stocks of vaccines.
"While worldwide avian flu control efforts have been mostly successful, avian flu, like seasonal influenza, mutates year to year, creating new subtypes and strains that could easily and quickly spread among humans," said Ross.
"To stem the spread of a potential pandemic, we need stockpiles of vaccines available that can be readily adapted to enhance the immune system's response to new strains," he added.
H5N1 virus has the ability to constantly reinvent itself and affect the immune response in humans.
The scientists developed the vaccine using a virus-like particle or VLP that is easily identified by the immune system as a real virus but lacks genetic information to reproduce, making it a prospectively safer alternative for a human vaccine.
The vaccine was also engineered to encode genes for three influenza viral proteins to offer enhanced protection against possible new strains of the virus.
The study was conducted using a mice model where the mice was given one-dose and two-dose regimens of the vaccine.
The findings revealed that mice immunized twice with the vaccine had developed protective antibodies against the deadly virus
The mice injected with the vaccine through the muscle developed more antibodies in the blood, while mice that received through nasal had more antibodies in their lungs.
Dr. Ross said that VLPs easy to develop produce, manufacture and could be generated within ten weeks.
The study appears in Jan. 30 issue of PLoS ONE.