A team of researchers from the NIAID and MedImmune have demonstrated that experimental vaccines that use weakened segments of the H5N1 virus proved effective in protecting animals from lethal versions of bird flu. The research is particularly significant because it demonstrates that the vaccine may be effective against viral mutations that will have to occur before bird flu can trigger a human pandemic. MedImmune has one of the most advanced programs for developing a bird flu vaccine. Their work appears in the September 12 issue of PLoS Medicine.
"If an influenza pandemic were imminent or under way, we would need a vaccine that could stimulate immunity quickly, preferably with a single dose," says NIAID Director Anthony S. Fauci., M.D. "The encouraging findings of this study suggest that vaccines based on live but weakened versions of the H5N1 avian influenza virus may quickly stimulate protective immunity. We are further exploring this live, attenuated vaccine strategy as one of several tools that we hope to have available in the event of an influenza pandemic."
- see the release on H5N1 research