Research Findings

Novel Avian Influenza Vaccine Among Many in Human Clinical Trials

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, National Institutes of Health, National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), January 2007

The first U.S. human trial of a DNA vaccine for the H5N1 avian fl u began in late 2006. Scientists from the Vaccine Research Center at NIAID have developed a synthetic DNA vaccine based on a specific gene from the H5N1 influenza virus. The vaccine includes a copy of an important viral protein that is made in human cells. The vaccine prepares the immune system to respond more rapidly if ever exposed to the real H5N1 virus in the future. The virus itself is not involved in vaccine manufacturing, and the vaccine cannot cause infection, unlike some other viral vaccines that use weakened forms of naturally occurring viruses. Researchers are monitoring subjects to measure the safety of and immune responses to the vaccine.

NIAID conducts and supports multiple research projects on human vaccines against the H5N1 virus. According to WHO, more than 40 clinical trials are ongoing or have been completed in 10 different countries.

Computer Modeling Seeks to Limit Pandemic’s Reach

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, National Institutes of Health, National Institute of General Medical Sciences, April 2006

Using computer models, researchers from the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle and the Los Alamos National Laboratory found that a highly contagious pandemic flu could infect half of the U.S. population if no intervention measures are used. Testing different interventions, they found that a combination of at least three different interventions, including 182 million rounds of antiviral treatment, will provide the best chance to keep cases at or below the number in a typical flu season.

The model shows that vaccinating school children first is more effective than random vaccination when supplies are low. This work is part of an ongoing research program, Models of Infectious Disease Agent Study (MIDAS), supported by the National Institute of General Medical Sciences.

CDC Reconstructs 1918 Influenza Pandemic Virus

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Centers for Disease Control andPrevention, October 2005

Researchers reconstructed the influenza virus that caused the 1918 pandemic, which killed between 20 and 50 million people worldwide. Studying the biological properties of the virus helps researchers to better understand virulence and the disease process. This research aids CDC and other scientists in devising appropriate means for early diagnosis, treatment, and prevention should a similar pandemic virus emerge. /1918flupandemic.htm