Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:


Bypassing eggs, flu vaccine grown in insect cells shows promise

An experimental flu vaccine made in insect cells – not in eggs, where flu vaccines currently available in the United States are grown – is safe and as effective as conventional vaccines in protecting people against the flu, according to results published in the April 11 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association.

Removing eggs from the flu vaccine manufacturing process is one option for health officials seeking to protect the population from seasonal flu as well as a potential bird-flu pandemic. Using eggs to grow vaccine takes time; a flu vaccine that relies on a different technology is capable of being produced in large amounts much more quickly, a key advantage if a bird flu pandemic were to occur.

“Eggs can be very cumbersome to work with,” said John Treanor, M.D., the flu expert at the University of Rochester Medical Center who led the study of 460 people reported in JAMA. “When you need hundreds of millions of fertilized eggs, you’re dealing with a whole host of agricultural issues, as well as scientific concerns regarding the flu virus itself. Flu viruses can be temperamental, and it’s not always an easy matter to get the virus to grow as you want in eggs.”

The use of cell culture systems to grow vaccines – using viruses as tiny factories to churn out mass amounts of vaccines – is a growing business. A similar technology using human cell lines is used to produce the hepatitis B vaccine, while one form of a vaccine against human papilloma virus is made using the same insect cell line used in the JAMA study.

... more about:
»Treanor »bird flu »flu »pandemic

In the study conducted by Treanor, together with colleagues at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital and the University of Virginia, scientists tested a vaccine called FluBlOk that is made by Protein Sciences Corp. of Meriden, Ct. FluBlOk relies on a virus known as baculovirus, which normally infects insects, to churn out the key components of the flu virus in a cell line drawn from caterpillars.

In the study funded by the company of 460 healthy people ages 18 to 49, one-third of the participants received a smaller dose of the vaccine (75 micrograms), one-third received a larger dose (135 micrograms), and one-third received a placebo shot that didn’t include vaccine. Each of the “real” shots included vaccine designed to protect against the three strains of flu that had been predicted to be the greatest threat during the 2004-2005 winter, when the study was conducted.

As the scientists expected, both the smaller dose and the larger dose caused an immune reaction generally considered effective for fighting off the flu, with the larger dose creating a stronger immune response. The side effects of the vaccine were the same as those usually reported from a typical flu shot – mainly mild arm pain.

Then, in the months that followed, there were seven cases of flu in the group that had not received the vaccine, compared to two cases in the group that received the smaller dose, and no cases in the group that received the larger dose. Together, the two vaccines reduced flu infection rate by 86 percent.

“Even though the study was small, the results are very promising,” said Treanor, who is professor of Medicine and of Microbiology and Immunology and director of the Vaccine and Treatment Evaluation Unit at the University of Rochester. “While we certainly hoped and expected the vaccine to be protective, you don’t know that until you actually test it. We’ve shown that the vaccine does work in the real world.”

Freedom from the egg brings implications important to a world facing the threat of pandemic bird flu.

For decades the nation’s efforts to prevent flu have centered on growing flu virus in hundreds of millions of fertilized eggs, with each egg containing less than a teaspoonful of material that will ultimately become part of a vaccine. It’s typically a six-month process to produce enough flu vaccine to protect the public.

Taking eggs out of the process would likely slice one or two months off the production process, Treanor said. In case of a bird-flu pandemic, that would allow manufacturers to ramp up vaccine production more quickly than if they had to wait for the production of millions of eggs. Not relying on chicken eggs might also be advisable in case a bird flu pandemic hits chicken flocks hard. The insect-cell technology also simplifies the manufacturing process in another way: A live flu virus is needed when growing vaccine in eggs, a danger when working with a potent bird-flu strain.

The technology would also help make it possible to boost the dose that patients receive, by increasing the nation’s capacity to churn out vaccine. That’s especially crucial in the fight against bird flu, as Treanor and other scientists have shown that an experimental vaccine appears to be effectively only at high doses.

The experimental vaccine differs from approved vaccines in another way as well. The experimental vaccine focuses on a portion of the flu virus known as the hemagglutinin, which the virus uses to attach to blood cells. Unlike conventional vaccines, FluBlOk does not also include neuraminidase, an enzyme that allows a flu virus to replicate and spread. While the hemagglutinin is the focus of most vaccines, scientists have been curious to measure how a vaccine without neuraminidase performs.

Tom Rickey | EurekAlert!
Further information:

Further reports about: Treanor bird flu flu pandemic

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Novel mechanisms of action discovered for the skin cancer medication Imiquimod
21.10.2016 | Technische Universität München

nachricht Second research flight into zero gravity
21.10.2016 | Universität Zürich

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: New 3-D wiring technique brings scalable quantum computers closer to reality

Researchers from the Institute for Quantum Computing (IQC) at the University of Waterloo led the development of a new extensible wiring technique capable of controlling superconducting quantum bits, representing a significant step towards to the realization of a scalable quantum computer.

"The quantum socket is a wiring method that uses three-dimensional wires based on spring-loaded pins to address individual qubits," said Jeremy Béjanin, a PhD...

Im Focus: Scientists develop a semiconductor nanocomposite material that moves in response to light

In a paper in Scientific Reports, a research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute describes a novel light-activated phenomenon that could become the basis for applications as diverse as microscopic robotic grippers and more efficient solar cells.

A research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) has developed a revolutionary, light-activated semiconductor nanocomposite material that can be used...

Im Focus: Diamonds aren't forever: Sandia, Harvard team create first quantum computer bridge

By forcefully embedding two silicon atoms in a diamond matrix, Sandia researchers have demonstrated for the first time on a single chip all the components needed to create a quantum bridge to link quantum computers together.

"People have already built small quantum computers," says Sandia researcher Ryan Camacho. "Maybe the first useful one won't be a single giant quantum computer...

Im Focus: New Products - Highlights of COMPAMED 2016

COMPAMED has become the leading international marketplace for suppliers of medical manufacturing. The trade fair, which takes place every November and is co-located to MEDICA in Dusseldorf, has been steadily growing over the past years and shows that medical technology remains a rapidly growing market.

In 2016, the joint pavilion by the IVAM Microtechnology Network, the Product Market “High-tech for Medical Devices”, will be located in Hall 8a again and will...

Im Focus: Ultra-thin ferroelectric material for next-generation electronics

'Ferroelectric' materials can switch between different states of electrical polarization in response to an external electric field. This flexibility means they show promise for many applications, for example in electronic devices and computer memory. Current ferroelectric materials are highly valued for their thermal and chemical stability and rapid electro-mechanical responses, but creating a material that is scalable down to the tiny sizes needed for technologies like silicon-based semiconductors (Si-based CMOS) has proven challenging.

Now, Hiroshi Funakubo and co-workers at the Tokyo Institute of Technology, in collaboration with researchers across Japan, have conducted experiments to...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>



Event News

#IC2S2: When Social Science meets Computer Science - GESIS will host the IC2S2 conference 2017

14.10.2016 | Event News

Agricultural Trade Developments and Potentials in Central Asia and the South Caucasus

14.10.2016 | Event News

World Health Summit – Day Three: A Call to Action

12.10.2016 | Event News

Latest News

Resolving the mystery of preeclampsia

21.10.2016 | Health and Medicine

Stanford researchers create new special-purpose computer that may someday save us billions

21.10.2016 | Information Technology

From ancient fossils to future cars

21.10.2016 | Materials Sciences

More VideoLinks >>>