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Medicine Science

Egg-free Flu Vaccines Provide Faster Pandemic Response 64

Posted by Soulskill
from the not-that-we'll-stop-panicking-every-time-a-new-flu-comes-around dept.
eggboard writes "Jen A. Miller has an egg allergy of a variety that her doctor has told her could produce a severe reaction if she were vaccinated for the flu, as flu vaccines are grown from viral strains incubated in chicken eggs. But, she explains, two new approaches have been approved by the FDA and are in production that don't use eggs at all; they're on the market in small amounts already, but will be available in much larger quantities soon. It's not just about egg allergies: the new vaccine types (one relying in insect proteins and the other on animal proteins) provide a much faster turnaround time in response to flu pandemics — as little as two to three months from isolation of a strain to mass production instead of at least six months with eggs."
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Egg-free Flu Vaccines Provide Faster Pandemic Response

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  • by Brewdinar (3544101) on Wednesday February 19, 2014 @06:46PM (#46290705)
    I know that I'm missing the human-interest angle of the story here, but as someone who works at a company that has performed some large-scale DNA vaccine production research (Vandalia Research, but please don't google us because the website is an embarrassment), I'm a little disappointed that the article didn't try harder to explain the difference between these new vaccines and the old egg-grown ones. I think a little science education is a good thing to provide, to pull back the curtain on the good that genetic engineering can do. The first-pass explanation was "Flublok uses insect proteins instead of eggs. (The other is Flucelvax, which relies on animal proteins.)" which is rather poor since the proteins don't replace the eggs, the insect/animal culture cells those proteins are grown in do. I don't expect an in-depth discussion of promoters or vectors, but more about the recombinant engineering involved than "insect cells are used to cultivate hemagglutinin" would be nice. For anyone interested in a more academic explanation of Flublok's approach, along with several other possible vaccine design strategies that will hopefully be coming soon, a good page to read would be http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pm... [nih.gov]
  • Re:whatever (Score:4, Informative)

    by DeTech (2589785) on Wednesday February 19, 2014 @06:48PM (#46290725)
    Each years flu vaccine is really just an educated guess on which flu will be going around that year. Most of the time it's just based on what was in the other hemisphere that year... it can be wrong so it's not a sure thing.
  • partial info (Score:5, Informative)

    by slew (2918) on Wednesday February 19, 2014 @08:19PM (#46291379)

    Yeah, it was a puff piece written in first-person form, but this whole egg-free stuff actually gained momentum back in the 2001 and came to a tipping point back during the 2009 H1N1 pandemic scare...

    Two of the first widely deployed cell-based, mono-valent flu vaccines (2009-H1N1-only) were Celtura (made by Novartis) and Celvapan (made by Baxter). The shortage of egg-based virus production during the 2009 H1N1 pandemic scare and the controversy over the use of adjuvant MF59 (e.g., in Pandemrix, an egg-based flu-vaccine developed as a supplemental flu shot that year) used to amp the immune response in order to *stretch/cut* the available virus production tended to obscure the difference between egg and cell-based vaccines to most of the public...

    FWIW...
    Novartis makes a few variants (Celtura, Optaflu, Flucelvax) grown in cells derived from the MDCK** line of cells.
    Baxter makes another variant (Celvapan, Preflucel) grown in cells derived from the VERO*** line of cells.
    Protein Sciences' FluBlok is quite different, though. An insect line (expresSF+) of cells is infected with a baculovirus which was GM-ed to encode the desired HA protein (e.g., a specific H1 flu-variant). No flu virus present.

    **MDCK: cell line extracted by S. H. Madin, N. B. Darby from Canine (adult female cocker spaniel) Kidney tissue in September 1958.
    ***VERO: cell line extracted by Yasumura and Kawakita from a VErda (green) monkey RinO (kidney) tissue in March 1962.
    expresSF+: private cell line isolated in 1983 by C. Cherry and G. Smith from some unknown mixture of cells originated from a fall armyworm (a type of caterpillar) started in 1970.

  • Re:Great news. (Score:3, Informative)

    by Mr_Wisenheimer (3534031) on Wednesday February 19, 2014 @08:23PM (#46291405)
    Flu shots are designed to trigger an immune response, so mild, flu-like symptoms such as swollen lymph nodes, fatigue, et cetera are normal. Also, to the best of my knowledge, psychosomnia cannot cause full-blown flu symptoms such as fever, running nose, sore throat, fluid in the lungs, et cetera. If you have those symptoms, it is probably because you were already infected with the flu virus or another pathogen that causes flu-like symptoms when you received the vaccine.
  • by sir_eccles (1235902) on Thursday February 20, 2014 @12:04AM (#46292509)

    It has already been removed from single dose vials since around 2001.

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