French bird flu vaccine clears first test hurdle

11th May 2006, Comments 0 comments

PARIS, May 11, 2006 (AFP) - A prototype French vaccine against H5N1 bird flu has been found to be safe and effective in initial tests on several hundred volunteers, according to a study published online Thursday by the British journal The Lancet.

PARIS, May 11, 2006 (AFP) - A prototype French vaccine against H5N1 bird flu has been found to be safe and effective in initial tests on several hundred volunteers, according to a study published online Thursday by the British journal The Lancet.

The Sanofi Pasteur vaccine, based on a modified strain of the virus, produced protective antibodies in a phase I trial involving 300 healthy volunteers, and was well tolerated with only a few cases of severe reactions, it said.

New vaccines and medications generally undergo three test phases of increasing scope to see whether they work and have any side effects.

The trial vaccine is administered in two doses and requires a booster shot.

Thirty-one vaccines against bird flu are currently being tested on humans, 22 of them against the H5N1 strain. Eight vaccines will have undergone Phase II trials by the year's end.

The big fear is that the H5N1 virus, which at present circulates among poultry, could acquire genes that could make it highly contagious among humans.

As this has not yet happened, the present prototype vaccines are configured on the avian strain that, according to an official World Health Organisation (WHO) toll dating from May 8, has killed 115 humans through transmission from birds.

The hope is that these vaccines, if stockpiled, may provide some protection against a pandemic strain and help brake an outbreak. They could also be swiftly adjusted to cope with the pandemic strain once it is identified, it is hoped.

In a commentary also carried out by The Lancet, two US flu experts, Suryaprakash Sambhara and Gregory Poland, cautioned that no-one knows for sure whether the pre-pandemic vaccines will provide any shield.

And, they noted, the Sanofi Pasteur vaccine has a drawback because it is a two-dose formula. This limits the number of doses that can be stockpiled because of the constraints on global manufacturing capacity.

Copyright AFP

Subject: French news

0 Comments To This Article