Australia - Bird flu vaccine on trial

Date of publication : 8/25/2004
Source : Geelong Info
A new and promising bird flu vaccine will be tested on chickens at a high security Geelong research facility. The trial for the experimental vaccine to protect against the deadly H5N1 strain of avian influenza virus will start within weeks in a contained laboratory at CSIRO's Australian Animal Health Laboratory. Once developed, the vaccine could be used to protect the world's poultry industry from further outbreaks and stop it spreading to Australia. Vaccine research scientist Scott Tyack said the vaccine could be added straight to the bird's drinking water. Dr Tyack will test the effectiveness of the vaccine, or a placebo, on a group of 35 birds over about five weeks. Further tests and safety approval by the Office of the Gene Technology Regulator would be needed before the vaccine could be licensed. The trial vaccine uses a modified and harmless form of fowl adenovirus. Avian influenza genes added to the adenovirus stimulate the vaccinated bird's immune system, protecting it against any future outbreaks of bird flu. And unlike current vaccines that use a whole chemically-inactivated virus, diagnostic tests would be able to distinguish between infected and vaccinated birds. The trial vaccine would also be safer than whole-virus vaccines, because there is no risk of it causing bird flu in vaccinated animals or mutating to produce new strains. Dr Tyack said the adenovirus system has been successfully used in other vaccines. "Where we've tried it before it's given us promising results, so we believe the avian influenza vaccine has a very good chance of working,'' he said. Millions of chickens and ducks died or were slaughtered earlier this year in an outbreak of the H5N1 strain of bird flu in 10 Asian countries, which also claimed the lives of 24 people.
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