US Federal officials have announced the launch of the first clinical trial of an H5N1 avian influenza vaccine made from a piece of the virus’s DNA rather than from the whole virus, an approach that may facilitate faster vaccine production.
The trial began Dec_21 at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) Clinical Center in Bethesda, Md., the NIH reported in a news release. The vaccine was designed by researchers at the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), part of the NIH.
Conventional flu vaccines use viruses that are grown in chicken eggs and administered in weakened or killed form. DNA vaccines, in contrast, contain only parts of the virus’s genetic material. “Once inside the body, the DNA instructs human cells to make proteins that act as a vaccine against the virus,” the agency said. The experimental vaccine uses a modified version of the hemagglutinin gene from a recent strain of the deadly H5N1 virus, the NIH reported. It was made in the Vaccine Pilot Plant at the NIAID’s Vaccine Research Center (VRC).