A research team at the University of Maryland has developed a universal flu vaccine that can also protect birds and mammals from avian flu. The team used isolated genes from the H9N2 virus to create the vaccine "backbone," adding specific genes from other strains to customize the vaccine as needed. And making a better animal vaccine will make it easier to protect humans from a viral mutation.
"We now have a vaccine that works in many animal species and can protect against any type of influenza that we want," said team leader Daniel Perez, who works at the Virginia Maryland Regional College of Veterinary Medicine (Avian Flu Virus Program).
Research on bird flu has been a big focus in the vaccine development field for several years now. Public interest peaked a couple of years ago, when fears of a human outbreak spiked as governments rushed to stockpile drugs that had only a marginal chance of protecting their populations. But every flu season, new human cases and fresh outbreaks in bird populations in Asia spur fresh attention. This year, indications that bird vaccines are losing their ability to protect poultry in Hong Kong have raised new worries that a mutation in the virus could trigger a pandemic.
ALSO: Switzerland's AmVac is working with researchers in Taiwan on a new H5N1 vaccine. AmVac's MALP-2 adjuvant, administered in a nose spray, is being used in the research. Report