Bird flu vaccine has promise, Baxter says

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DEERFIELD -- Baxter International said preliminary clinical results of its influenza vaccine are encouraging.

The company said that the vaccine to counteract bird flu is "highly immunogenic" and produces functional antibodies to H5N1 influenza even at the lowest dose, as shown by results from the first two phases of clincical trials.

We have achieved an important step toward our goal or producing a safe and efficacious pandemic vaccine using the company's proprietary vero cell-based technology," said Noel Barrett, vice president of research and development of the company's vaccine business.

Hartmut Ehrlich, another Baxter official who is a medical doctor, said the vaccine, if it meets all the tests, will offer protection for the general public in a pandemic.

"These preliminary data, which must be confirmed in a larger study, suggest that the vaccine may provide wider protection for a larger number of people before and during a pandemic," he said.

Baxter said it plans to begin Phase III or final clinical trial of the vaccine early next year and present final results by the end of 2007.

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