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Swine flu vaccine in the works.

Using a method he developed for the H5N1 bird flu, researcher Suresh Mittal of Purdue University, West Lafayette, Ind., believes he will be able to create a vaccine that will work against the H1N1 flu strain and its variants. Mittal, professor of comparative pathobiology, received gene samples of the new H1N1 virus (swine flu). With scientists at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Atlanta, Mittal hopes to have a vaccine ready for testing sometime in June.

Traditional flu vaccines are composed of virus components from three flu viruses grown in chicken eggs. Since the flu viruses used are dead, instead of causing illness, they create an antibody-based protection against closely related flu strains. This occurs because immune cells at the site of the injection take up flu proteins called antigens.

These traditional vaccines will not protect against swine flu, however. The influenza virus is changing constantly, which is why seasonal flu vaccines need to be tailored each year to better match strains expected to affect people during flu season.

Mittal and CDC collaborators used an adenovirus, a common cold virus, to carry a gene of the H5N1 bird flu virus in 2006. "The adenovirus is incapable of replicating and does not seem to cause disease in humans," Mittal explains. 'q-hat makes it a suitable virus to work with for flu vaccines?

When the virus enters cells in a person's body, the cells use the influenza genes to create the proteins, or antigens, themselves. By doing so, the cells create antibodies and cell-based protection from mutated forms of the influenza virus.

The vaccine Mittal created for the bird flu worked on three different strains isolated over a seven-year period. He is hoping to see similar success with a H1 N1 flu vaccine.

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Title Annotation:Inoculation
Publication:USA Today (Magazine)
Article Type:Brief article
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Jun 1, 2009
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