Vical reports breakthrough with bird flu vaccine

San Diego- based Vical is reporting early-stage success with a new bird flu vaccine that relies on engineered bacteria to produce genes of the H5N1 virus. The DNA is combined with an adjuvant in a new manufacturing process that will be considerably swifter than the egg-based process now commonly in use. And as one of the gene ingredients in this vaccine stays in every strain of bird flu that evolves, it may also have much broader applicability in the event of a pandemic.

According to Vical's researchers, up to 67 percent of the people involved in the Phase I trial achieved protective levels of antibodies. A follow-up trial will recruit between 800 and 1200 volunteers to test the vaccine. While headlines about a potential pandemic have been fading in recent months, the threat is still very real. And a variety of developers have been scrambling to develop new vaccines that could protect large populations in the event of an outbreak.

- read the story in the Wall Street Journal