Inoculating with combination vaccines could limit AI threat
Researchers in Germany and the US believe they have discovered an
effective and inexpensive way to vaccinate poultry against avian flu and help to
prevent its spread to humans.
These independent research teams have both successfully
attached the gene for avian flu virus onto an existing, widely used vaccine
against Newcastle disease. The AI virus was grafted onto the vaccine using
The Newcastle disease vaccine is cheap to
produce, and it can be added to drinking water or applied via spray. The vaccine
currently in use costs less than a penny a bird, and the researchers say that
the genetically engineered version to protect against avian flu should not cost
The reports appear in this week's issue of the Proceedings
of the National Academy of Sciences.
The researchers have tested the
vaccine on chickens, and they say it works very well.
pathogenic H5N1 avian flu has raised concerns, with millions of birds killed in
Asia and elsewhere. More than 120 people have died. Scientists worry that the
virus will evolve into a form that can be easily spread among people, leading to
a worldwide epidemic.
The American team, led by Peter Palese of the
Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York, developed a combined vaccine with
Newcastle disease and the H7N7 flu virus, which protected the poultry from
Newcastle disease and was 90% effective against the flu.
group, led by Angela Roemer-Oberdoerfer of the Federal Research Institute for
Animal Health in Reims, combined the Newcastle vaccine with the H5N2 influenza
to produce a combination vaccine that protected chickens that were later given
potentially deadly doses of either virus.
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