Nasal Spray Flu Vaccine By U-M Researcher Is 93% Effective

A nasal spray influenza vaccine pioneered by Hunein F. Maassab, professor of epidemiology at the University of Michigan School of Public Health, has proved 93 percent effective in a major study of 1,600 children across the country. The vaccine triggers an early, local antibody response in the nasal passages---a powerful first line of defense and a key element in the prevention of influenza. School age children are major carriers of the disease. Influenza kills 20,000 people each year in the United States alone.

The results of the 10-site study were announced July 14 by the National Institute of Allergic and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) and Aviron, the biopharmaceutical company in Mountain View, Calif., that licensed the vaccine technology from the U-M.

"The clinical trials demonstrate that the vaccine is safe, immunogenic, genetically stable and highly effective. It is very gratifying to see our years of effort pay off this way," said Dr. Maassab, who has been collaborating with NIAID on the vaccine since 1973. Maassab, now age 70, began his work on a live flu vaccine at U-M in 1966.

"This is a tremendous accomplishment," said Noreen M. Clark, dean of the U-M School of Public Health. "The results of the clinical trials are the successful culmination of three decades of dedication and innovation by Dr. Maassab and his research team. The vaccine is likely to have a major impact on U.S. public health in the future."

"Dr. Maassab's work is a reflection of the continuing significance of the U-M Department of Epidemiology," she added, "which has been a powerhouse in vaccinology since the 1940s, when work on influenza and polio began."

Maassab's vaccine has two advantages. First, his vaccine uses weakened and harmless or "attenuated" live viruses that produce stronger and longer lasting immunity than that produced with the traditional dead virus vaccine. And second, the vaccine is administered in a n

Contact: Scott Tyrrell
University of Michigan

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