Study: Cell culture-derived flu vax appears as effective as egg‐derived one

A flu vaccine made using dog kidney cells appears to be as safe and effective as one produced using chicken eggs--the traditional, albeit slower method, according to a study.

The trial compared the efficacy of cell culture-derived influenza vaccine and egg‐derived trivalent inactivated vaccine with placebo against laboratory‐confirmed influenza illness in 11,404 healthy adults in the U.S., Finland and Poland during the 2007-2008 influenza season. Each participant was observed during a 6‐month study surveillance period, and vaccine immunogenicity was evaluated in a subset of 1,045 participants.

According to the data, immunogenicity of both vaccines exceeded the Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research licensing criteria. Both vaccines were well tolerated, with similar safety profiles. Novartis plans to file for approval of Optaflu in the U.S. next year, according to a company release. The product is already available in Europe.

"It appears that (the vaccines) will be useful and should begin to make up part of the vaccine supply shortly," writes Dr. David Bernstein, director of the division of infectious diseases at Cincinnati Children's Hospital in an accompanying editorial, as quoted by Reuters.

In his editorial, Bernstein agrees that cell-based flu vaccines would offer a number of advantages over conventional ones, but he also mentions disadvantages and barriers that will have to be considered going forward--including lack of experience using the new production technique, the money needed to build new facilities and the need for further study to ensure that cell-based flu vaccines are free of contaminants

- see the Novartis release
- read the study abstract
- get more from Reuters