Bird flu skin patch under development

A small biotechnology company, which is trying to develop needle-free bird flu vaccines, has received US government approval to test a bird flu skin patch on more people.

Iomai's patch is not a vaccine, but rather delivers an 'adjuvant', which is an immune boosting agent that will be delivered along with a vaccine to try to make it work better.
"The Iomai immunostimulant patch has the potential to change how we react to an influenza pandemic, and we will move ahead quickly with the development of this technology," said president and CEO of Iomai, Stanley Erck.
The Health and Human Services Department, which gave Iomai $128 million to work on the patch in 2007, said the company could do a phase 2 safety trial -- typically involving a few dozen people to see if a product is safe and whether there is any indication it works.
If a phase 2 trial succeeds, companies can move to phase 3 studies, which are carefully designed to prove a product has the intended effect and are needed for final approval by the US Food and Drug Administration.
The patch, applied after gently scraping the skin with a sandpaper-like device, is being used to boost an H5N1 vaccine made by the Belgian drug company Solvay SOLV.BR.
Last month, the company reported the skin patch helped boost a bird flu vaccine so well that people appear to be protected by a single dose. This could help stretch vaccine supply during a pandemic.
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