Investment gives flu vaccines a shot
CHICAGO - Reuters
Scientific advances, including a universal flu vaccine given every five to 10 years that will fight many strains of a virus, are expected in the next decade.As early as next year, more modern and more effective vaccines will hit the market, thanks to investments by the U.S. government and pharmaceutical companies. And even bigger scientific advances are expected in the next decade, including a “universal” flu vaccine given every five to 10 years that would fight many strains of a virus, making annual shots all but obsolete.
Experts say it could take eight to 10 more years of testing before a universal flu vaccine would be ready. Meanwhile, they expect advances that could still incrementally improve the level of protection vaccines offer and shorten manufacturing times.
In the last 12 months, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved two new seasonal flu vaccines that protect against four predominant strains of flu instead of three. In late November, the FDA approved Novartis’ new flu vaccine grown in cultures of dog kidney cells instead of the conventional chicken eggs, a faster and more reliable manufacturing process that could help build stockpiles in the event of a pandemic.
Last week, the FDA green-lighted the first gene-based flu vaccine by Protein Sciences Corp, which uses genetic engineering to grow portions of the virus in insect cells. “There will be more manufacturers and more types of vaccine available in future flu seasons,” FDA Commissioner Dr. Margaret Hamburg said.