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Ciptapangan Visitor
Battle Against Bird Flu
posted by admin on 06/03/07

Glaxo Vaccine Fights Other H5N1 Strains, Firm's Study Shows

LONDON -- GlaxoSmithKline PLC's prepandemic flu vaccine based on one strain of the H5N1 bird flu works against other versions of the virus as well, the company said.

The experimental vaccine provides a significant level of cross-immunity, because it can recognize and kill a strain that differs from the one used in its formulation, according to two studies.

See complete coverage of efforts to contain avian flu, including an interactive graphic on the science of the virus and a look back at major flu epidemics.

"This means that proactive administration of our pre-pandemic vaccine before or just after the start of the pandemic could help to substantially slow down the spread of disease," said Jean Stephenne, president of GlaxoSmithKline Biologicals, the drug maker's vaccine unit.

Experts say that if the H5N1 virus mutates and becomes capable of being transmitted between humans, it could spark a global pandemic. Both Sanofi-Aventis SA and Novartis AG are developing pandemic vaccines.

GlaxoSmithKline's prepandemic vaccine could be adapted for pandemic use once the virus responsible for a pandemic has been identified.

The company announced study results showing that even though its prepandemic vaccine uses an H5N1 strain from Vietnam, it reacts against the Indonesian strain, a genetically different virus. In the study, which tested 400 adults, the vaccine stimulated a strong immune response against the Indonesian strain of the virus, even with low levels of antigen -- the substance that stimulates an immune response.

The results were achieved due to GlaxoSmithKline's own adjuvant system, or booster, which requires a significantly lower amount of antigen to raise a strong immune response. This could give the ability to produce very large quantities of the product for mass vaccination, according to the company.

The second study, carried out on ferrets, showed that the vaccine could protect against two different H5N1 flu strains, also at very low levels of antigen.

Write to Elena Berton at elena.berton@dowjones.com

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