In October 2015, the Commission for the Protection against Sanitary Risk (COFEPRIS) gave Mexico the registry of the first recombinant vaccine against seasonal influenza in the world and designed to begin marketing in the first quarter of 2016.
For the approval of the drug, called Flublock and originally formulated by the US laboratory Protein Sciences Corporation, Institute of Biotechnology of the National University of Mexico (UNAM) participated in the transfer of analytical information of the vaccine.
The scientific work at the UNAM is led by Dr. Laura Palomares, who explains that for a vaccine to be called recombinant means that instead of taking the original pathogen and multiply it to attenuate its effect, scientists take single gene from it, in this case of the virus strains H1N1 and H3N2 influenza, which codes for hemagglutinin coding and is expressed in organic compounds that have nothing to do with the influenza virus, such as eggs, gluten, gelatin, latex or conservatives.
"Working with the DNA of the virus has several advantages, for example, it does not need to be cultivated and there is no risk for the handlers who make the vaccine or the environment" says the researcher.
The second advantage has to do with having to get vaccinated each year against influenza, and this is because it is a highly changeable virus, so the current vaccine on the market no longer contains the virus that is currently infecting the population. "With the recombinant DNA technique this does not happen because we work with the sequence of virus circulating at this time," explains the specialist.
She adds that the third advantage is that this method shortens production times, since obtaining strains and adapting them can take several months, but a recombinant vaccine can be produced massively in just a few weeks, providing for emergency cases such as the one in 2009 with H1N1 influenza.
Flublock wasdeveloped in the USA by Protein Science Corporation, where it has a sanitary registration. In Mexico it was acquired by the laboratory Liomont and thanks to the collaboration with the Institute of Biotechnology of the UNAM, it obtained registration with COFEPRIS.
Influenza is a highly contagious respiratory disease that enters the body through the mouth, nose and eyes; it is transmitted from person to person through saliva droplets that are expelled by sneezing or coughing, shaking hands, kissing or hugging.
It can also be spread by having contact with items previously contaminated by droplets of saliva from a person sick with influenza, such as tables, computer keyboards, door handles, handrails, telephones, tissues and assorted surfaces.
"With this vaccine, Mexico gains access to state of the art medicines and vaccines," says Dr. Palomares. She adds that she runs the laboratory at the Institute of Biotechnology, which has extensive experience in the characterization of this type of influenza virus proteins.
"The UNAM is very interested in this type of technology, which is very versatile and can be used to create other vaccines, to be available in the country so we can respond quickly to a pandemic, as the one in 2009," emphasizes the researcher. (Agencia ID)
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