Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Engineering Flu Vaccines: New Method Could Improve Vaccines For Both Seasonal Flu And Bird Flu

Date:
March 18, 2009
Source:
Rice University
Summary:
Scientists have developed a new computerized method of testing the effectiveness of both bird flu and seasonal flu vaccines. Tests suggest the computerized approach can better identify vaccines that are effective against multiple flu strains. Data from bird flu outbreaks and more than 30 years of seasonal flu records were used to confirm the findings.

This is a diagram of the influenza virus.
Credit: NIAID / Wikipedia

A new computerized method of testing could help world health officials better identify flu vaccines that are effective against multiple strains of the disease. Rice University scientists who created the method say tests of data from bird flu and seasonal flu outbreaks suggest their method can better gauge the efficacy of proposed vaccines than can tests used today.

Related Articles


Rice's Michael Deem, the lead scientist on the project, will present the group's results March 19 at the American Physical Society's 2009 meeting in Pittsburgh. The results are also slated to appear in the forthcoming book "Influenza: Molecular Virology" from Horizon Scientific Press.

Avian flu, or bird flu, is a particularly deadly type of flu that's transmitted from birds to humans. It hasn't yet evolved into a form that can be transmitted readily between humans, but scientists and world health authorities are trying to prepare for a potential outbreak. Because the virus mutates continually, creating a vaccine in advance is problematic. For example, scientists have already found that a vaccine designed for the 1997 strain of bird flu does not work against a 2003 strain.

"Current vaccines contain only a single version of a given flu subtype," Deem said. "We wanted to gauge the effectiveness of a vaccine that contained multiple versions of a given subtype."

World health authorities currently test the efficacy of proposed flu vaccines using either ferrets, which can contract the same forms of flu as people, or genetic assays. Rice's new computerized method could be a cheaper and faster alternative.

With the new method, flu virus mutations are assigned numerical scores. Deem, Rice's John W. Cox Professor of Bioengineering and professor of physics and astronomy, and colleagues developed the method so they could assign a number that captured the amount of difference or similarity between strains. The method can also be used to test how effective a vaccine will be against divergent strains. To verify this, the team checked their results against flu vaccine data collected by the World Health Organization from 1971 to 2004.

"For seasonal influenza, we validated our model against observational data compiled by the World Health Organization's Global Influenza Surveillance Network," Deem said. "We also ran tests against bird flu data. We found that multiple-component bird flu vaccines appeared to be helpful in controlling the simultaneous multiple introduction of bird flu strains."

Influenza viruses are like chameleons. They constantly change the patterns on their outer surface to avoid being targeted by antibodies. This rapid mutation rate is the reason seasonal flu vaccines must be changed annually. However, the vaccines sometimes offer less than ideal protection against newly evolved strains. It takes about six months to produce annual vaccine supplies; also, ideal vaccine strains are often difficult to produce by the standard hen's egg technology, and alternative strains are substituted.

"Oftentimes, bird flu seems to emerge with multiple strains, and something similar can happen with newly released or evolved strains of seasonal flu as well," Deem said. The computational approach Deem will discuss is able to estimate the need for and the efficacy of a multiple-component vaccine in the face of the emergence of multiple flu strains.

Each year, world health authorities create a flu vaccine that protects against three types of seasonal flu -- two subtypes of type A flu and one subtype of type B.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Rice University. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Rice University. "Engineering Flu Vaccines: New Method Could Improve Vaccines For Both Seasonal Flu And Bird Flu." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 18 March 2009. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/03/090317125219.htm>.
Rice University. (2009, March 18). Engineering Flu Vaccines: New Method Could Improve Vaccines For Both Seasonal Flu And Bird Flu. ScienceDaily. Retrieved October 31, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/03/090317125219.htm
Rice University. "Engineering Flu Vaccines: New Method Could Improve Vaccines For Both Seasonal Flu And Bird Flu." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/03/090317125219.htm (accessed October 31, 2014).

Share This



More Health & Medicine News

Friday, October 31, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Melafind: Spotting Melanoma Without a Biopsy

Melafind: Spotting Melanoma Without a Biopsy

Ivanhoe (Oct. 31, 2014) The MelaFind device is a pain-free way to check suspicious moles for melanoma, without the need for a biopsy. Video provided by Ivanhoe
Powered by NewsLook.com
Battling Multiple Myeloma

Battling Multiple Myeloma

Ivanhoe (Oct. 31, 2014) The answer isn’t always found in new drugs – repurposing an ‘old’ drug that could mean better multiple myeloma treatment, and hope. Video provided by Ivanhoe
Powered by NewsLook.com
Chronic Inflammation and Prostate Cancer

Chronic Inflammation and Prostate Cancer

Ivanhoe (Oct. 31, 2014) New information that is linking chronic inflammation in the prostate and prostate cancer, which may help doctors and patients prevent cancer in the future. Video provided by Ivanhoe
Powered by NewsLook.com
Sickle Cell: Stopping Kids’ Silent Strokes

Sickle Cell: Stopping Kids’ Silent Strokes

Ivanhoe (Oct. 31, 2014) Blood transfusions are proving crucial to young sickle cell patients by helping prevent strokes, even when there is no outward sign of brain injury. Video provided by Ivanhoe
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Health & Medicine

Mind & Brain

Living & Well

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins