Cell-based flu shot beats current vaccine: study

Feb 15, 2011 by Marlowe Hood

Flu vaccines made from lab-grown cells work at least as well as those derived from viruses cultivated in chicken eggs, the preferred method for 50 years, according to a study released Wednesday.

The findings, reported in The Lancet, could help speed approval for the new technique in the United States, which has recently said healthy adults should also be inoculated against seasonal influenza.

Cell-based flu vaccines have major advantages over the traditional manufacturing process, including unlimited supply, a shorter production time, and an alternative for persons allergic to eggs.

They may also be better suited for developing a shield against the potential pandemic threat of a deadly H5N1 mutation.

But their effectiveness had yet to be fully tested in a large-scale clinical trial, according to the authors.

Noel Barrett, a researcher at the Biomedical Research Centre in Austria, and colleagues divided more than 7,000 volunteers in the United States, 18 to 49 years old, into two groups.

Participants in the first group were injected with a flu vaccine derived from lab-grown cells during the 2008-2009 , while the second group was given a placebo shot with no active ingredients.

The vaccine was nearly 80 percent effective in protecting against that year's flu strains, comparing favourably to a 73 percent rate for egg-based vaccines, as reported elsewhere.

There were no serious secondary effects, with only a few "mild and transient" problems registered.

"This study is the first published report of the clinical efficacy of an derived from a Vero-cell-culture," the authors said, using the term for animal or human cell lines grown in the laboratory.

Cell-based flu vaccines have been approved for use in Europe, and were made in limited quantities before and during the 14-month (WHO) H1N1 "swine flu" pandemic alert in 2009/2010.

The virus turned out to be less lethal than feared, and large stocks of hastily manufactured vaccine went unused.

But had the flu been more deadly -- especially early in the flu season -- it is unlikely that pharmaceutical companies could have kept up with demand using the egg-based method of fabrication, experts say.

In egg culture, flu viruses are injected into chicken egg embryos, where they multiply. After several days of incubation a machine opens the egg and harvests the virus, which is then purified and chemically killed.

On average it takes one or two eggs to produce a single dose of annual .

In cell culture, the virus is grown in animal or human cells, which are available in unlimited supply.

In August 2010, the WHO said swine flu -- which has to date claimed more than 18,400 lives worldwide -- had "largely run its course", declaring an end to the pandemic.

The H1N1 virus is now regarded as part of seasonal influenza and protection is included in standard seasonal vaccines.

Explore further: Flu season, early again, hitting hard in South and Midwest

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

NIH experts describe influenza vaccines of the future

Nov 17, 2010

In a review article appearing in the New England Journal of Medicine, scientists at the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), part of the National Institutes of Health, examine research under way to ...

Unusual flu vaccine is developed

Jun 14, 2006

U.S. scientists have used reverse genetics to develop an influenza virus with two key proteins on its surface derived from the H5N1 avian virus strain.

Recommended for you

Evidence-based recs issued for systemic care in psoriasis

9 hours ago

(HealthDay)—For appropriately selected patients with psoriasis, combining biologics with other systemic treatments, including phototherapy, oral medications, or other biologic, may result in greater efficacy ...

Bacteria in caramel apples kills at least four in US

9 hours ago

A listeria outbreak believed to originate from commercially packaged caramel apples has killed at least four people in the United States and sickened 28 people since November, officials said Friday.

Steroid-based treatment may answer needs of pediatric EoE patients

10 hours ago

A new formulation of oral budesonide suspension, a steroid-based treatment, is safe and effective in treating pediatric patients with eosinophilic esophagitis (EoE), according to a new study in Clinical Gastroenterology and Hepatology, the official clinical practice journal ...

Discovery of genes that predispose a severe form of COPD

12 hours ago

A study by Ramcés Falfán-Valencia, researcher at the National Institute of Respiratory Diseases (INER), found that the mestizo Mexican population has a number of variations in certain genes that predispose ...

On the environmental trail of food pathogens

13 hours ago

Tracking one of the deadliest food contamination organisms through produce farms and natural environments alike, Cornell microbiologists are showing how to use big datasets to predict where the next outbreak could start.

User comments : 0

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.