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Reverse Genetics Avian Influenza Vaccine Approved in France
The National Agency for Veterinary Medicine (Fougeres, France, www.anmv.afssa.fr/en_anmv/) has granted temporary approval for an inactivated-virus, reverse-genetics avian vaccine to help prevent avian influenza resulting from infection with the H5N1 strain. The “Poulvac Flu Fend” i H5N3 RG vaccine was developed by Fort Dodge Animal Health (Overland Park, KS, www.wyeth.com/divisions/fort_dodge.asp), a division of Wyeth, St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital (Memphis, TN, www.stjude.org), and the University of Wisconsin (Madison, WI, www.wisc.edu).
Reverse genetics technology allowed researchers to combine components from three different influenza viruses into one vaccine. The eight-plasmid, reverse genetics system allows the antigen content to be standardized. Robert Webster, PhD, of the Department of Infectious Diseases at St. Jude, explains that the standardization of antigen content is similar to human influenza vaccines. “Thus the new vaccine is a major advance for preventing infection of poultry with H5N1,” he said. The technology not only enables the vaccine to protect against the most prevalent strain of avian influenza, but also allows researchers to differentiate between a field strain and the vaccine using diagnostic tests to monitor whether a flock has been infected.
As part of its avian influenza control program, the French Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries has ordered a 7-million dose initial supply of the vaccine for use in ducks.