FLU VAX GOES TO THE SOURCE
By Sean Henahan, Access Excellence
DC (July 30, 1997)- A novel intranasally administered flu vaccine shown
to be effective in 93% of children receiving it aims to stop the flu virus
in its favorite place, the human nose.
The results of a 10-site study conducted under the auspices of
the National Institute of Allergic and Infectious
Diseases (NIAID) showed the vaccine to be safe and well tolerated.
Even more important, it seems to work.
Overall, the attenuated live-virus vaccine provided 93 percent protection
against influenza in this population. Only
one percent of 1,070 children who received the vaccine developed culture-confirmed
influenza during last year's flu
season versus 18 percent of 532 children the same age who received
"The initial results from this trial are very exciting," comments Anthony
S. Fauci, M.D., director of NIAID. "An
influenza vaccine given in a nasal spray would be easier to administer
and more acceptable than an injection,
especially to children. Such a vaccine could have a significant impact
on public health."
Caption: Electron Micrograph
of Influenza (CDC)
"The clinical trials demonstrate that the vaccine is safe, immunogenic,
genetically stable and highly effective. It is
very gratifying to see our years of effort pay off this way," said
vaccine pioneer Dr. Hunein Maassab, professor of epidemiology at the University
of Michigan School of Public Health, who has been working on the vaccine
The intranasal form of the vaccine was designed to do more than spare
people the pain of the typical vaccine jab. The vaccine triggers an early,
local antibody response in the nasal passages---a powerful first line of
defense and a key element in the prevention of influenza. This represents
a new approach in immunization. School age children are major carriers
of the disease. Influenza kills 20,000 people each year in the United States
"This is a tremendous accomplishment," said Noreen M. Clark, dean of
the University of Michigan School of Public Health. "The results of the
clinical trials are the successful culmination of three decades of dedication
and innovation by Dr.Maassab and his research team. The vaccine is likely
to have a major impact on U.S. public health in the future."
The new vaccine uses weakened and harmless or "attenuated" live viruses
that produce stronger and longer lasting immunity than that produced with
the traditional dead virus vaccine. The tri-valent vaccine contains two
different A influenza strains and one B strain, and protected children
from both the A and B strains circulating last year, Maassab said.
The vaccine, which combines the core of the harmless influenza virus
with the covering from a virulent strain, is
highly adaptable. The core virus can be stored until a flu epidemic
breaks out and then 'retrofitted' with an outer
covering that matches the virus causing the epidemic, Maassab explained.
FDA approval of the new vaccine is expected within one year. The trail
results were announced July 14, 1997 by the National Institute of Allergic
and Infectious Diseases (NIAID)