Bird flu expert working on vaccine that protects against multiple strains

May 10, 2013 by Elizabeth K. Gardner, Purdue University

(Medical Xpress)—As the bird flu outbreak in China worsens, a Purdue University expert is working on vaccines that offer broader protection against multiple strains of the virus.

The warned in a news conference that the virus behind the current outbreak, H7N9, is one of the most lethal seen in recent years. There have been 32 reported deaths from this .

Suresh Mittal, a professor of comparative in Purdue's College of Veterinary Medicine, has developed a new vaccination method that incorporates genes from multiple strains of the virus and creates protection that could persist through different mutations, he said.

"Avian influenza viruses are moving targets that rapidly evolve and evade vaccines that are specific to a predicted strain," Mittal said. "We need a vaccine that protects against a spectrum of strains to prepare for a potential pandemic. Such a vaccine may not offer full protection from the strain that pops up, but even partial protection could save lives and buy time to create a more effective vaccine."

Mittal created vaccines for past strains of and continues to collaborate with the .

"The strain responsible for the current outbreak appears not to be easily transmitted from person to person, which occurs effectively in a pandemic situation," he said. "Fortunately, avian influenza in humans tends to replicate deep in the lungs where it can't easily get out through coughing. However, the more people this virus infects, the more chances it has to evolve. It is important to keep a close watch on this outbreak."

The H7N9 is a new strain of avian influenza virus with the potential to infect humans, he said.

Mittal's method uses a harmless adenovirus as a vector to deliver avian influenza virus genes into the body where they create a two-fold immune response of antibody and cell-based protection. The adenovirus vector-infected host cells produce infleunza proteins that lead to the creation of antibodies and special T-cells primed to kill the virus and any cells infected by it.

Any genes important to avian influenza virus protection can be incorporated into the vector, and it can be designed to expose the immune system to both the surface and internal components of the virus. In this way the immune system can be primed to recognize portions of the virus that predominately remain the same across all strains and those that are more difficult for the virus to change as it adapts to the immune system attack, he said.

Mittal and CDC collaborators created a vaccine in 2006 for the H5N1 bird flu virus, and the work was described in papers for The Lancet, The Journal of Infectious Diseases and the Journal Clinical Pharmacology and Therapeutics.

Explore further: Researchers develop universal flu vaccine: New technology could become available to consumers within a decade

Related Stories

Researchers develop universal flu vaccine: New technology could become available to consumers within a decade

April 3, 2013
(Medical Xpress)—Flu is unpredictable. Influenza viruses are constantly changing—from one season to the next or even within the course of a flu season—making vaccine development difficult.

Recent studies warn surveillance of bird flu strains is needed

May 3, 2013
(Medical Xpress)—Recent scientific papers from China suggest a vigilant watch should be kept on the development of bird flu viruses, as a new strain has been identified and previously known viruses have been shown capable ...

New flu virus found in China, travelers urged to follow guidelines from experts

May 8, 2013
In late March 2013, China notified the World Health Organization (WHO), that it had identified a new flu virus in patients who had become ill. The new virus, avian influenza A (H7N9) virus, had not been found in humans until ...

Mutant version of H5N1 flu virus found to be more preferential to human infection

April 25, 2013
(Medical Xpress)—An international team of bio-researchers has found that a mutant strain of the H5N1 influenza virus (created in a lab) has a 200-fold preference for binding with receptors in human cells, over those found ...

New bird flu strain seen adapting to mammals, humans

April 12, 2013
A genetic analysis of the avian flu virus responsible for at least nine human deaths in China portrays a virus evolving to adapt to human cells, raising concern about its potential to spark a new global flu pandemic.

Two-pronged immune cell approach could lead to universal shot against flu

March 14, 2013
Seasonal epidemics of influenza result in nearly 36,000 deaths annually in the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control. Current vaccines against the influenza virus elicit an antibody response specific ...

Recommended for you

Creation of synthetic horsepox virus could lead to more effective smallpox vaccine

January 19, 2018
UAlberta researchers created a new synthetic virus that could lead to the development of a more effective vaccine against smallpox. The discovery demonstrates how techniques based on the use of synthetic DNA can be used to ...

Study ends debate over role of steroids in treating septic shock

January 19, 2018
The results from the largest ever study of septic shock could improve treatment for critically ill patients and save health systems worldwide hundreds of millions of dollars each year.

New approach could help curtail hospitalizations due to influenza infection

January 18, 2018
More than 700,000 Americans were hospitalized due to illnesses associated with the seasonal flu during the 2014-15 flu season, according to federal estimates. A radical new approach to vaccine development at UCLA may help ...

Zika virus damages placenta, which may explain malformed babies

January 18, 2018
Though the Zika virus is widely known for a recent outbreak that caused children to be born with microencephaly, or having a small head, and other malformations, scientists have struggled to explain how the virus affects ...

Certain flu virus mutations may compensate for fitness costs of other mutations

January 18, 2018
Seasonal flu viruses continually undergo mutations that help them evade the human immune system, but some of these mutations can reduce a virus's potency. According to new research published in PLOS Pathogens, certain mutations ...

Study reveals how MRSA infection compromises lymphatic function

January 17, 2018
Infections of the skin or other soft tissues with the hard-to-treat MRSA (methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus) bacteria appear to permanently compromise the lymphatic system, which is crucial to immune system function. ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.