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Experimental Flu Vaccine Technique Could Reduce Time Needed To Develop New Shots For Humans

“An experimental vaccine based on a molecule related to DNA protects animals against influenza and may one day offer an ultra-rapid way to develop new shots for humans, German scientists reported on Sunday,” Reuters reports (Hirschler, 11/25). “In a first for any infectious disease, a vaccine against flu has been made out of messenger RNA (mRNA) — the genetic material that controls the production of proteins,” New Scientist writes, adding, “Unlike its predecessors, the new vaccine may work for life, and it may be possible to manufacture it quickly enough to stop a pandemic” (Mackenzie, 11/25).

“Reporting their results in the journal Nature Biotechnology, [Lothar Stitz of Friedrich-Loeffler-Institut and colleagues] calculated that a completed vaccine could be produced within six to eight weeks of the genetic code of a flu virus strain being published,” Reuters notes, adding, “In contrast, growing vaccines in fertilized chicken eggs can take up to six months, while using cell cultures may reduce that by up to eight to 10 weeks” (11/25). “Finding a rapid cure for the flu each season is critical given the ever-changing character of the virus,” GlobalPost notes (11/25).

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Filling the need for trusted information on national health issues, the Kaiser Family Foundation is a nonprofit organization based in Menlo Park, California.