In the past eight years there have been three pandemic "false alarms" caused by avian H5N1 viruses. The first of these in 1997 was a turning point in our understanding of the difficulties of vaccine development from a lethal avian virus. It took 7 months to produce the first vaccine and even this was not an ideal candidate, due to antigenic differences from the 1997 H5N1 virus and poor growth properties. Since 1997, we have become much better equipped to respond, mainly due to increased sophistication and more widespread use of reverse genetics technologies. These advances prompted a European initiative to develop pandemic influenza vaccines, which was sponsored by the European Commission. The project, FLUPAN, started in 2001 with the aim to construct a safe vaccine virus from a highly pathogenic avian H7N1 virus using reverse genetics. The reassortant H7N1 virus would then be used to produce and clinically evaluate an experimental mammalian cell-grown vaccine. This project aimed to provide a "proof of concept" that safe and immunogenic vaccines could be produced from highly pathogenic avian influenza viruses.
Auteur : Wood JM, Robertson JS
Eurosurveillance, 2004, vol. 8, n°. 25