First trials for DNA-based avian flu vaccine
Plans for clinical trials to test the viability of a vaccine to
protect against an avian flu pandemic have been submitted to the UK Medicines
and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency (MHRA).
If successful, UK company PowderMed, which develops
vaccines for viral diseases and cancers, will conduct their H5N1 vaccine trials
at a clinical research unit in London.
They would be the first human
trials to examine the ability of a vaccine based upon the Vietnam H5N1 avian
strain to protect against a potential pandemic.
conventional vaccines, which use weakened strains or fragments of the harmful
virus, the test vaccine uses strands of DNA that can be made quickly and
PowderMed's vaccine is a needle-free injection device which
fires microscopic gold particles coated with DNA - encoding genes specific to
the flu strain - at supersonic speed into the immune cells of the
Previous trials conducted in the US using bird flu strains in a
vaccine had 100 per cent protection in various experimental models.
vaccine against avian flu could significantly bolster efforts to limit the
infection's spread if a pandemic strain emerges, by adding to government
stockpiles of the anti-viral drugs Tamiflu and Relenza.
PowderMed's chief medical officer, said that the vaccine could play "a very
important role" in the event of a future avian flu pandemic.
PowderMed joins a number of companies in
the race to develop an effective low-cost avian influenza
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