As the first U.S. doses of government-contracted H1N1 swine flu vaccine were produced last week-via egg-less insect cell technology-the FDA reminds the public to be wary of Internet sites and other promotions for products that claim to diagnose, prevent, treat or cure the virus.
Connecticut-based Protein Sciences continues to produce its recombinant influenza vaccine, fulfilling its obligation under a $35-million grant from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. If all goes well, the contract could be extended for five years at a sum of $147 million, according to an HHS announcement.
Production involves the extraction of a gene from a flu virus and then its insertion into a Baculovirus, which multiplies quickly. Cells are then purified to become part of a human vaccine. The technique promises quicker vaccine production than is available via traditional egg-based methods, hence the HHS interest in light of pandemic eventuality.
Separately, the Fort Worth, TX-based Star-Telegram reports that the FDA has identified some 73 fraudulent swine flu products. It's favorite: "the Photon Genie, an ‘electromedicine instrument' said to strengthen the immune system by using ‘life-nourishing photobiotic energy.'"