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New Vaccine Candidate for Deadly H7N9 Flu Virus

Thirty-one deaths reported in China (May 8)

A new virus-like particle (VLP) vaccine candidate has been produced for the avian influenza A (H7N9) virus that is responsible for the current deadly flu outbreak in China.

In order to produce an influenza vaccine, the manufacturer — Medicago Inc., based in North Carolina and Canada — requires only the genetic sequence of the viral strain, thus limiting the delays that can occur using traditional manufacturing systems. Manufacturers of current egg-based flu vaccines can take up to 6 months to produce a vaccine for any new strain.

The new H7N9 VLP vaccine is currently being purified in preparation for immunogenicity studies in animal models.

To date, a total of 130 laboratory-confirmed cases of human infection with the H7N9 virus strain, including 31 deaths, have been reported to the World Health Organization (WHO).

Source: Medicago Inc.; May 8, 2013.

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