New egg-free flu vaccine called promising for those with egg allergy

SAN DIEGO, April 2 - Austrian researchers have developed a unique flu vaccine that is made without egg proteins, which can trigger rare but potentially fatal allergic reactions in some people. "The development represents the newest and most successful approach to influenza vaccine development in 50 years," says Otfried Kistner, Ph.D.

Kistner, a virologist with Baxter Hyland Immuno in Orth/Donau, Austria, and director of the research project, described the vaccine today at the 221st national meeting of the American Chemical Society, the world's largest scientific society.

Although at least two other manufacturers are testing egg-free flu vaccines, Kistner notes that only his company is using cells that have previously been accepted by regulatory authorities in the United States and Europe for human vaccine production.

According to the Austrian scientists, their new manufacturing technique is faster than methods that require chicken eggs, which can be in short supply during a large outbreak. As a result, the technique is expected to lessen the likelihood of flu vaccine shortages like those in the United States last year.

Phase I, II and III clinical trials were done in the United Kingdom, Austria and Poland with more than 2,500 volunteers. They were divided into two age groups: 18-59, and 60 and above. The studies showed that the new vaccine was effective in inducing specific antibodies against influenza, an indication that the vaccine will protect against infection.

"This does not mean that (conventional) vaccines are bad," says Kistner. "The benefit of vaccination is much greater than the risk of allergic reaction. The point of our vaccine is to improve it and minimize the risks which may appear."

Among the older patients who received the new vaccine, significantly fewer adverse effects were observed compared to those who received conventional vaccines. In the younger group, no significant differ

Contact: Charmayne Marsh
American Chemical Society

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