Scientists Testing New Poultry Vaccine Against "Bird Flu"By Jill Lee
April 6, 1998
Microbiologist Mike Perdue of USDA's
Service traveled last week to Hong Kong to deliver for further
tests a new poultry vaccine with potential to protect poultry against
the "bird flu" (avian influenza H5N1).
The vaccine was jointly tested by scientists with the ARS
Poultry Research Laboratory at Athens, Ga., and researchers at
Protein Sciences Corporation, Meriden, Conn. In December 1997, the
vaccine was shown to protect chickens from the virus in controlled
studies at the ARS facility at Athens.
Under the research partnership between ARS and Protein Sciences, the
scientists developed a previous vaccine to protect against a different
avian influenza strain, one that appeared in Mexico in 1995. The
Mexican strain is in the same genetic family--H5--as the Hong Kong
virus, but gave no evidence of infecting people.
Scientists from the Hong Kong Department of Agriculture and
Fisheries and zoo officials from Hong Kong's urban services department
will test the vaccine's potential to protect poultry and other bird
species from the bird flu strain. An effective vaccine could reduce
the likelihood of the virus' spread in poultry if it returns. The
virus is 100 percent lethal in chickens.
Perdue and other scientists at SEPRL have evaluated the genetic
make-up of North American and Asian-origin H5 viruses. Protein
Sciences Corporation researchers combined the researchers' insights
and genetic material from the viruses with patented technology to
develop their vaccines. The technology uses an insect virus,
baculovirus, to produce huge quantities of a single viral protein. In
ARS tests conducted in Athens, the vaccines have provided 100 percent
protection to chicks exposed to H5. Unvaccinated exposed birds died.
The Protein Sciences vaccines for avian influenza are in the process
of being evaluated for approval in the United States in case of
another outbreak. One advantage of vaccination with these new vaccines
is that the baculovirus-produced proteins will allow regulatory
agencies to readily distinguish vaccinated birds from birds that have
been infected naturally with the influenza virus.
Scientific contacts: Mike Perdue, ARS
Poultry Research Laboratory, Athens, Ga. Phone (706) 546-3433,
fax (706) 546-3161, firstname.lastname@example.org;
Bethanie Wilkinson, Protein Sciences Corporation, Meriden, Conn.
Phone: (203) 686-0800, fax (203) 686-0268,