News Column

FDA Approves New Flu Vaccine

Jan. 18, 2013

Sara Jerde

The feds yesterday approved a new flu vaccine that is not made with a live influenza virus or grown inside a chicken egg -- things that exclude some patients from vaccinations and scare others.

The Food and Drug Administration approved Flublok for use in people 18 to 49 years old. It could be available in limited quantities within two weeks. Unlike traditional flu vaccines, this drug can be rapidly produced.

Most flu vaccines are made by growing the virus in chicken eggs, then inactivating or killing it, a long process.

Manon Cox, president and CEO of Protein Sciences Corp., Flublok's manufacturing company, said the vaccine is produced with new technology that uses a protein in the virus called hemagglutinin, Cox said.

The protein is made by putting the gene for hemagglutinin into a virus that infects insect cells. Those cells, from the fall armyworm, are grown in culture and churn out the protein.

Protein Sciences will soon develop the drug for younger patients, but that process will take much longer, Cox said.

Additional vaccines are certainly welcome, said Dr. Dennis Cunningham, an infectious diseases specialist at Nationwide Children's Hospital.

"For some that have such severe food allergies (to eggs), this would be a great alternative," Cunningham said.


Distributed by MCT Information Services

Source: (c) 2013 The Columbus Dispatch (Columbus, Ohio)

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