Author: Robert

The vaccine could protect humans from the flu pandemic

The vaccine could protect humans from the flu pandemic

One Step Closer to a Universal Flu Vaccine?

by Johns Hopkins News Service

November 13, 2009, 3:33 PM EST

A research team in Thailand has completed a three-year, government-funded study of its own efforts to create a vaccine that could protect the population against flu pandemics.

The study, published Monday in PLOS Neglected Tropical Diseases, involved the use of an experimental technology called DNA vaccination that has been used for less than a decade to elicit protective immune responses against a variety of diseases. The idea is that this new DNA vaccine can be used as a replacement for the current flu vaccine that has been available since 1976.

The experimental vaccine, which was tested on a population of 1,500 chickens, provides evidence that the method can indeed be used to create a vaccine that can protect humans as well as mammals.

“We have shown that DNA vaccines can elicit responses that are protective against different influenza viruses,” said a member of the project’s research team, Dr. Somchit Chongkhloun. “The fact that the chickens did not reject it implies there is potential for humans.”

The DNA vaccine is a modified version of a virus, which is taken directly from a virus that has been adapted by the National Institute for Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology to produce a protein. This protein, which is known as the haemagglutinin, is then “injected” into the vaccine. This injection is meant to mimic the way the flu virus infects a human to produce some of the damage that leads to the flu virus being called “the worst pandemic disease ever.”

With this new strategy, the virus from which the haemagglutinin is made is removed from the gene, a process that creates a gene that is much smaller than the entire genome of the virus. This process also makes the gene easier to manipulate, since it is more susceptible to the introduction of other genes that encode the protein or antigens that serve as the foundation

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