Flu (Bird, Swine, etc): January 2007 Archives

Bird flu mutations found

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bird fluMutations in the bird flu virus have been found in two infected people in Egypt, in a form that might be resistant to the medication most commonly used to treat the deadly disease, the World Health Organization said Thursday.

The mutations in the H5N1 virus strain were not drastic enough to make the virus infectious enough to spark a pandemic, WHO officials said. But more such mutations could prompt scientists to rethink current treatment strategies.

Samples taken from two bird flu patients in Egypt — a 16-year-old girl and her 26-year-old uncle — were not as responsive as regular H5N1 viruses to Tamiflu, a drug also know as oseltamivir that is used to treat the disease, the officials said.

The girl and her uncle died in late December, as did the man's 35-year-old sister, although she has not yet been confirmed as having had H5N1. The three — who lived together in Gharbiyah province, 50 miles northwest of Cairo — fell ill within days of one another after being exposed to sick ducks.

U.S. awards bird flu vaccine contracts

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global vaccinationWASHINGTON - The government awarded contracts Wednesday to three drug makers tasked with developing a vaccine for bird flu using technology that will help stretch the supply of the medicine.

The contracts, valued at $132.5 million, may provide a way for more Americans to have access to a vaccine in the event of a pandemic, said Health and Human Services Secretary Mike Leavitt.

The vaccines would use an immune booster called an adjuvant, which reduces the amount of active ingredient per dose that's necessary to achieve protection from the virus.

Human trials for bird flu vaccine

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clinical trialsThe first human trial of a DNA vaccine designed to prevent H5N1 avian influenza infection began late last month, when the vaccine was administered to the first volunteer at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) Clinical Center in Maryland in the US.

Scientists from the Vaccine Research Center (VRC) at the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), one of the NIH Institutes, designed the vaccine.

The study will involve 45 volunteers between the ages of 18 and 60. Fifteen will receive placebo injections and 30 will receive three injections of the trial vaccine over 2 months and will be followed for 1 year. NIAID researchers will measure immune responses to the vaccine, assess its safety, and compare its potency to more traditional vaccine approaches.