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GSK Breakthrough Multi-Strain Effective Flu Vaccine

by 5m Editor
4 January 2008, at 11:14am

BRUSSELS - Dutch scientists have concluded that a breakthrough Avian Influenza vaccine may be effective against multiple strains of the virus.

ViroClinics, a small company run by the Erasmus Medical Center in Rotterdam, has tested a vaccine against bird flu developed by a British pharmaceutical firm on 20 ferrets, which have bronchial tubes similar to those of humans, Dutch newspaper De Volkskrant reported Thursday.

The vaccine against the lethal H5N1 bird flu virus on animals was developed by British developed by the pharmaceutical giant Glaxo Smith Klein (GSK).

The vaccine offers protection to those ferrets against not only the H5N1 virus but several other bird flu viruses that occur worldwide.

The H5N1 virus has killed millions of poultry in the last three years, mainly in Asian countries. Roughly 350 people, mainly in Vietnam and Indonesia, have been infected with it and two-thirds of them have died.

The research results will be published Thursday on the scientific website PloSone, the paper said.

The H5N1 virus constantly changes form and adapts to humans thereby increasing the risk of people infecting one another. The World Health Organization predicts the development of a special strain of the virus which could cause a flu pandemic.

Usually a vaccine could only be developed after an outbreak, when the precise form of the pandemic strain is known. It would then take four to six months for the vaccine to be widely available.

However, GSK says the addition of a substance that enhances the response of the human immune system has enabled it to produce a pandemic vaccine now. It means that if a pandemic bird flu breaks out, people can be immediately vaccinated.

Further Reading

- You can visit the Avian Flu page by clicking here.

5m Editor