28 November 2012
The ever-lasting flu vaccine
Work has begun in Germany on developing a flu vaccine that may work for life. The experimental vaccine currently protects animals from influenza and could be developed into protection for humans.
The new development could allow the vaccine to be produced in weeks rather than months. It can be difficult for pharmaceutical companies to keep up with demand but this could signal a better response to producing vaccines for the mutating strains of the virus.
Traditionally, flu vaccines are produced in chicken eggs, but more recently firms have been using animal cell cultures. Both approaches are lengthy and can be delayed depending on the yields produced.
The new vaccine is being developed by Lothar Stitz of Friedrich-Loeffler-Institut and uses a quicker method. The approach involves DNA and the molecules which carry information and tell cells which proteins to make.
Stitz said, “The only thing we need is the sequence of the relevant genes. It’s a new option and it doesn’t take long to do.”
The new vaccine is still being developed and will be a few years away. It will need extensive human trials to determine its efficiency and discover any side effects.