According to researchers at Purdue University and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, virus may be used to check the spread of bird flu in human beings.
Purdue molecular virologists are investigating a new way to provide immunity against avian influenza viruses, or bird flu, the most lethal of which, H5N1, has a 50 percent fatality rate in humans. The researchers are focusing on using a harmless virus, called adenovirus, as a transmitting agent for a vaccine to fight off highly virulent strains of the avian influenza viruses.
Current vaccines are designed for strains of flu found in local areas and are effective only as long as the virus doesn't change form. Existing vaccines will have limited success against new strains of avian influenza, he said. Every time bird flu mutates, vaccines must be redesigned.
An additional important advantage to using an adenovirus as a vector, or transporter of vaccine into cells, is that is could be mass-produced much more quickly than with current methods.
Even with a recently developed vaccine based on growing a single protein of H5N1, it would be difficult to rapidly produce enough protective medication to stem a pandemic, according to experts from the CDC, World Health Organization and NIAID. However, a large quantity of an adenovirus-based vaccine could easily be produced on short notice, said the researchers.