Australian Scientists Create Egg-Free Swine Flu Vaccine

by VR Sreeraman on Jul 1 2009 5:02 PM

Australian researchers have created an egg-free vaccine for swine flu that can be produced from scratch within weeks.

The revolutionary vaccine matches the virus found in the boy, 10, from San Diego who was the first US case of the illness.

Professor Anton Middelberg, of the Australian Institute for Bioengineering and Nanotechnology at the University of Queensland in Brisbane, claims that the vaccine, which is currently not registered for use in Australia, is different from conventionally produced vaccines because it is made in cell cultures instead of in eggs, reports ABC Online.

According to the expert, the plus point of the technology, developed by US company Protein Sciences Corporation (PSC), is the speed and potency of the vaccine.

Middelberg says while the vaccine contains the same amount of protein as conventionally produced vaccines, it contains virus protein rather than a combination from egg and virus. This implies that a single dose delivers three times as much of the virus protein as a conventional vaccine.

Its other advantage is because the vaccine is only made up of virus protein it opens up a variety of methods of delivery apart from injection.

Middelberg was amazed that the University of Queensland team as they could produce a batch of vaccine within two weeks of receiving the genetic construct of the virus.

"This technology shifts the timeframe [in vaccine production] from months to weeks," he said.

"The vaccine can be made quickly when a new virus emerges or when it changes, and we can turn manufacturing on and off as needed. So we can choose to make vaccine just for those at risk of severe illness," he added.