The vaccine was developedby an Auburn University
veterinary professor in collaboration with
researchers at Vaxin
The research, which has been published in the scientific journal Vaccine
, would provide 100 percent protection once an
outbreak's strain is determined.
"We have proven the principle, which is the major step in leading to
commercially produced vaccine that could be vital to the poultry industry," said
Haroldo Toro, the Auburn University professor.
"When an outbreak occurs, we would determine the strain and quickly create
a vaccine within three months specifically for it."
The researchers inserted a gene from a low pathogenic avian
virus strain (H5N9) into a non-replicating human virus which was then
injected into developing chicken embryos still in the egg.
When protection induced by the vaccine was tested against two highly
pathogenic avian flu viruses, a Vietnam H5N1 strain and a Mexican H5N2 strain,
the results showed 68 percent and 100 percent protection, respectively.
"These strains have slightly different genetic makeups which account for
the different percentages in protection," said Toro, who is also collaborating
on this project with the Southeast Poultry Research Laboratory
"Our results indicate that we can provide effective protection against any
strain after incorporating the gene of the field strain into our vaccine
In the case of an outbreak of avian influenza, mass vaccination programmes
around the perimeter region would help to reduce the risk of further
dissemination of the field virus to neighboring areas.
"We can vaccinate lots of birds in a quick, cost- and labor-saving manner
which otherwise would not be possible," Toro said. "Most poultry operations
already have automated injection machines to vaccinate against Marek's disease,
injecting up to 40,000 eggs per minute. Our vaccine is produced through cell
cultures, so we can easily make enough vaccine for thousands of birds."
Toro's research is funded through a USDA
programme set up in 2004 for universities to study avian
influenza. The next step is gaining federal approval to commercially produce the
"We are looking at two or three years for federal approval, but it might be
much sooner if an outbreak occurs," he said. "We have a very good tool against
avian flu. No one has done this before."