Policy: Adaptations of avian flu virus are a cause for concern.

US National Science Advisory Board for Biosecurity, USA.
Nature (Impact Factor: 42.35). 02/2012; 482(7384):153-4. DOI: 10.1038/482153a
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT Members of the US National Science Advisory Board for Biosecurity
explain its recommendations on the communication of experimental work on
H5N1 influenza.

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    ABSTRACT: Recent studies altering the host range of the H5N1 bird flu virus have refueled intense debates over the potential misuse of academic life science research. To curtail the bioterrorism threat, it has been suggested that dissemination of the research results and methodology should be restricted. However, doubts have been raised over the suitability and effectiveness of this measure. Using the H5N1 studies as an example, this paper summarizes the main arguments of the debate. Particular attention is paid to the issue of the tacit knowledge required to replicate published life science research results, which has so far received limited attention. Taking into account the importance of tacit knowledge for life science research, it is argued that preventing publication of the methodology does not decrease the threat of bioterrorism.
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    ABSTRACT: The strain composition of influenza vaccines must be changed regularly to track influenza virus antigenic evolution. During outbreaks with pandemic potential, strain changes are urgent. The systems for accomplishing vaccine strain changes have required the shipment of viruses and other biological materials around the globe, with delays in vaccine availability, and have used legacy techniques of egg-based virus cultivation, resulting in vaccine mismatches. In collaboration with Synthetic Genomics Vaccines Inc. and the US Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority, Novartis has developed a synthetic approach to influenza vaccine virus generation. Synthetic influenza vaccine viruses and mammalian cell culture technology promise influenza vaccines that match circulating influenza strains more closely and are delivered in greater quantities, more rapidly than vaccines produced by conventional technologies. These new technologies could yield an improved influenza vaccine response system in which viral sequence data from many sources are posted on the Internet, are downloaded by vaccine manufacturers, and are used to rescue multiple, attenuated vaccine viruses directly on high yielding backbones. Elements of this system were deployed in the response to the 2013 H7N9 influenza outbreak in China. The result was the production, clinical testing, and stockpiling of an H7N9 vaccine before the second wave of the outbreak struck at the end of 2013. Future directions in synthetic influenza vaccine technology include the automation of influenza virus rescue from sequence data and the merger of synthetic and self-amplifying mRNA vaccine technologies. The result could be a more robust and effective influenza vaccine system.
    Current topics in microbiology and immunology 07/2014; DOI:10.1007/82_2014_399 · 3.47 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Highly pathogenic avian influenza H5N1 is a threat to global public health as a natural pandemic causing agent but has recently been considered a bioterrorism concern. The evolving view of the H5N1 virus necessitates the re-evaluation of the current status of H5N1 therapeutics and prophylactics, in particular the preparation of viable H5N1 vaccination strategies as well as the use of ferrets in influenza research. Here the highly pathogenic H5N1 virus dilemma is discussed in context with the current H5N1 vaccine status and the use of the ferret model. Previously, the development of various H5N1 vaccine platforms have been attempted, many of them tested in the ferret model, including vector vaccines, adjuvant vaccines, DNA vaccines, and reverse engineered vaccines. Moreover, as ferrets are a superlative animal model for influenza investigation and vaccine testing, it is imperative that this model is recognized for its uses in prophylactic development and not only as an agent for creating transmissible influenza viruses. Elucidating the ferret immune response and creating ferret immune reagents remain important goals in conjunction with the development and manufacture of H5N1 vaccines. In summary, an efficacious H5N1 vaccine is urgently needed and the ferret model remains an appropriate model for its development.
    The Journal of Infection in Developing Countries 06/2012; 6(6):465-9. DOI:10.3855/jidc.2666 · 1.27 Impact Factor