Top 10 Stories in ID That Will Change Practice

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Cell Culture Influenza Vaccine


The first cell culture-based vaccine for influenza is highlighted because cell culture has the advantage of rapid growth. This is a substantial benefit over the current, slower method that requires viral growth in eggs, making it necessary to select the vaccine constituents for each seasonal influenza vaccine at least 6 months before the influenza season starts. History shows that the frequency of mistakes is common as a result of changes that occur during that lead time. Cell culture growth permits a shorter lead time to make a better forecast (Figure 4).

Many studies highlight the fact that the influenza vaccine is only partially effective and that we need better vaccine production methods. No evidence yet suggests that this new vaccine will be more potent, but it may be.

An additional benefit is that the new vaccine will be produced in North Carolina. This may not seem important, but nearly all current vaccines are produced in Europe, and during a severe epidemic, distribution decisions could be made on the basis of nationalism rather than contracts. Therefore, US production is a goal.



Figure 4. Influenza vaccine production. Cell culture as an alternative to using eggs. From National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.

Finally, the cell culture influenza vaccine is an important method for new drug development because it was funded as a public-private partnership with Novartis, the US Department of Health and Human Services, and the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA). Federal support was justified because influenza vaccine development is a national health priority. At a time of crisis in new antibiotic development, the success of this partnership for cell culture vaccine represents a novel and, in this case, a successful model for new drug development.

More From Medscape

FDA Approves First Cell Culture Flu Vaccine

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