Novavax vaccine targets bird-flu strain

July 31, 2006 at 11:22 AM

MALVERN, Pa., July 31 (UPI) -- Novavax said Monday it has successfully made a vaccine that appears to protect against a new strain of avian flu.

The company said it has already started preclinical testing on the new treatment, which targets the avian-flu strain H5N1 clade 2.

"We believe this is the first vaccine to be made that targets the H5N1 clade 2 virus isolated from people in Indonesia who have been infected with this mutated version of avian influenza," said Novavax President and Chief Executive Officer Rahul Singhvi. "This is a very significant milestone for Novavax and our proprietary virus-like particle vaccine technology. This demonstrates how rapidly we can respond by making a vaccine to protect against emerging pathogens worldwide, compared to older egg-based manufacturing methods."

A virus "clade" refers to the distinct family into which a virus evolves, and according to experts, the H5N1 avian-flu virus is already splitting into a number of separate clades.

H5N1 clade 1 was first seen in Vietnam in 2003, while clade 2 appeared last winter in Indonesia. Clade 2 is the strain currently moving through Asia and parts of Europe, Novavax said.

The news from Novavax comes amid reports Monday that additional cases of avian flu have been identified in Indonesia.

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