A vaccine against the most common and deadliest strain of avian flu, H5N1, has been engineered and tested by researchers at the University of Pittsburgh’s Center for Vaccine Research and Novavax Inc. The vaccine produced a strong immune response in mice and protected them from death following infection with the H5N1 virus. The vaccine is being tested in humans in an early-phase clinical trial. Results of the study appear in the January 30 issue of PLoS ONE.
Unlike other avian flu vaccines, the vaccine uses a virus-like particle, or VLP, that is recognized by the immune system as a real virus but lacks genetic information to reproduce, making it a potentially safer alternative for a human vaccine.