Strains of swine flu need universal vaccine

Tags: Industry
It may take at least a decade before the world could see a universal vaccine to treat health threats like the swine flu. India should take a more active role in terms of researching for the influenza vaccine, which would ideally tackle all types of influenza, according to Dr Rafi Ahmed, vaccine center director, Emory Vaccine Center, Atlanta.

The current vaccines available for swine flu, made by companies like AstraZeneca, GSK, Sanofi among others, has an effectiveness of 20-50 per cent in dealing with the virus as the strain keeps changing. This year, India is not just affected by the H1N1 type of influenza but also with H3N2, falling under type A influenza.

“The challenge we face today is to develop a new vaccine every year to deal with different types of virus strains. A universal vaccine would provide protection against many different strains of influenza virus and a universal vaccine can provide protection against multiple viruses so that there is no need to develop a new vaccine every year,” he said.

Emory is also working upon public private partnerships to develop this vaccine with Indian companies like Bharat Biotech. Such collaborations would help develop effective cell culture vaccine like H1N1. “Our company is the only one to produce cell culture based vaccine, instead of eggs. It usually takes around three to five months to manufacture an influenza vaccine and we would also soon look at setting up an inventory so that the response time is reduced,” said Dr Krishna Ella, chairman and managing director of Bharat Biotech.

Accordng to him, Bharat Biotech will pursue a vaccine adjuvant programme which will enhance the vaccine immune capability manifold.

At Emory, the vaccine being developed could give long lived protective immunity by identifying and incorporating epitopes of the hemagglutinin that mediate broad virus neutralization into an influenza vaccine.

This year officials say in India there have been more than 12,000 people hit by the swine flu.



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