Monday, February 9, 2009

Breakthroughs In Bird Flu Vaccine

Researchers in Japan said yesterday they had developed a flu vaccine that works against multiple viruses and could prevent a deadly pandemic of bird flu mutations. Image Credit: Hokkaido University, Saitama Medical University, and NOF Corp.

Breakthroughs In Bird Flu Vaccine

The process of producing a vaccine to counter the spread of influenza is a tricky business.

Global trends must be analyzed, three separate strains of the current, most prolific flu virus must be chosen, and enough vaccine prepared months in advance of that year’s flu season in order to have ample supplies in stock to be distributed nationwide.

Once this effort has been put forth, there are no guarantees that the strains used to produce the vaccine will be the actual strains that spread illness during any given year.

Basically, this process has been a crap shoot … until now. A group of researchers in Japan has figured out a way to come up with a vaccine that will address all strains of influenza virus regardless of which one becomes the actual virus for that year.

A universal vaccine will guard against an Oblate Spheroid (world) wide pandemic.

About 250 people have died of avian flu since 2003. While only a small number of those cases were traced to human-to-human transmission, public health officials fear it's only a matter of time before the virus mutates into a more easily transmitted form and sparks a global outbreak. Image Credit: xenoMED

This excerpted and edited from medHeadlines -

Universal Flu Vaccine Breakthrough
medHeadlines, February 6, 2009

Researchers in Japan have announced a breakthrough that may put them one step closer to developing a universal flu vaccine.

Today’s flu vaccines target proteins on the outer surface of the virus, where mutations in the protein’s shape occur often and quickly. These mutations are one reason the vaccine and the virus actually wreaking havoc are not always a match.

The Japanese researchers looked inside the virus instead of outside it to find proteins that aren’t likely to mutate the way those on the outside do. The research team targeted three strains of the influenza virus for their study - the H5N1 bird flu, Hong Kong A, and Soviet A strains.

A commercially available universal flu vaccine is still years away as the research continues.
Thus far, the universal vaccine has been tested on animals only.
The Japanese Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry directed the research on the universal flu vaccine, with teams from its National Institute of Infectious Diseases, Hokkaido University, Saitama Medical University, and the chemical company, NOF Corporation, participating.
Reference Here>>

A veterinarian vaccinates a duckling in Shangsi county of the Guangxi Zhuang autonomous region, February. 4th. Central and local authorities have stepped up preventive measures against a bird flu outbreak. Image Credit: China Daily

About 250 people have died of avian flu since 2003, WHO figures showed.

Indonesia is the country worst-hit by avian influenza, with 115 deaths officially recorded since 2003. Five people have fallen victim in China this year.

Human victims consist mostly of people in close contact with sick birds.

There is no evidence so far that the deadly strain of bird flu has mutated into a form that could set off a pandemic.

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