Monday, July 10, 2006

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This seems like good news

There's not a lot of good news out there today, so let's engage in a little counter-programming before we get to it.

From the Guardian's science correspondent Ian Sample:

A British drug company is seeking permission to conduct the first human trials of an experimental vaccine against the avian flu virus.

The vaccine will target the lethal H5N1 strain of avian flu, which has spread rapidly throughout bird populations in Asia and has been brought to Europe by flocks of migrating waterfowl. The World Health Organisation has reported 97 human cases of avian flu since December 2003, with at least 53 deaths....

A vaccine against avian flu could significantly bolster efforts to limit the infection's spread if a pandemic strain emerges, by adding to government stockpiles of the anti-viral drugs Tamiflu and Relenza.

Unlike conventional vaccines, which use weakened strains or fragments of the harmful virus, the test vaccine uses strands of DNA that can be made quickly and cheaply.

In the trial, volunteers will be vaccinated using an alternative to a needle. Instead, a handheld device will blast harmless, microscopic gold particles coated in the vaccine into the upper arm at supersonic speeds.

Tests of a DNA vaccine designed to give protection against seasonal flu were published earlier this year and showed that it offered 100% protection, based on the immune response of volunteers.

So far, the DNA vaccine against avian flu has only been tested in animals, where it has also proved successful.

"Our tests have shown that it stops the infection entirely, to the point that we can't even measure the virus in the animals afterwards," said John Beadle, chief medical officer of the Oxford-based company PowderMed.

The company's research suggests humans would need two doses of the vaccine, a prime and a boost. Calculations suggest that less than half a kilogram of DNA would be enough to offer two doses of the vaccine to everyone in Britain.

posted by Dan on 07.10.06 at 09:30 AM


Good news indeed.So far WHO has reported 229 laboratory confirmed cases, 85 in 2006 only,with 131 deaths

posted by: ajit on 07.10.06 at 09:30 AM [permalink]

My god. Thats over .3% of the deaths caused by the normal flu in the US alone every year. None too soon.

posted by: Mark Buehner on 07.10.06 at 09:30 AM [permalink]

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