Smallpox vax highly effective against bird flu

A modified smallpox vaccine has proven extraordinarily effective in guarding mice against bird flu. And a team of scientists in Hong Kong and the U.S. say that it promises to offer a cheap supply of vaccine to guard against a pandemic.

"It produced a lot of (H5N1) antibodies and the speed of antibody response was far higher with this strategy than the Sanofi one," microbiologist Malik Peiris told reporters, referring to a newly approved H5N1 vaccine. While the tested vaccine used a bird flu strain from Vietnam, the jab also guarded against an Indonesian strain, indicating that it can be widely effective against the constantly changing virus.

Smallpox was wiped out a generation ago and the vaccine used in the bird flu study would be cheap to make and easy to distribute, with a long shelf life. That would significantly help developing countries looking to stockpile a vaccine. Researchers cautioned, however, that the vaccine was still some years away from possible commercialization.

- check out the report from Xinhua

ALSO: A scientific team at the University of Melbourne report that adding an immunity-related compound to a conventional vaccine triggered the development of killer T cells, raising the prospect that currently used vaccines could be reengineered to take on bird flu. Report