Innovative scientists producing new vaccines from insect cells

Tuesday 4th January 2022 7:00 am
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RESEARCHERS at The Pirbright Institute have developed a new vaccine that generates a faster and stronger immune response in chickens against the latest variant bird flu strain.

Many poultry flu vaccines protect birds from serious illness and death, but do not prevent them from transmitting the virus, enabling the continued spread of disease through flocks.

Pirbright scientists have used a new vaccination technique to enhance immune responses in birds and reduce the amount of virus infected birds shed into the environment.

Birds injected with the Pirbirght vaccine produced antibody responses as early as six days after being injected.

They also shed significantly less flu virus when challenged with a natural flu strain.

This means the birds would be less likely to spread infection.

The scientists have also found a way to grow live vaccine in a laboratory culture of insect cells instead of using eggs as is the usual method.

And as the new vaccine does not contain live flu virus, biosafety risks are reduced, and no specialist high containment facilities would be required for production.

Professor Munir Iqbal, head of Pirbright’s avian influenza virus group, said: "We have generated a powerful addition to the armoury of poultry vaccines.

"Our improved vaccine could help prevent the spread of flu.

"This is essential for protecting poultry welfare, increasing food production and reducing the risk of avian influenza spreading to humans."

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