GENEVA—A prototype vaccine strain of the H5N1 flu virus causing havoc in Asia will probably be ready next week, John Wood of the UK National Institute for Biological Standards and Control (NIBSC) told The Scientist today (January 29). However, months of other hurdles remain before it may be ready for public health use.

As leaders of the countries worst hit by the avian flu met in Bangkok at an emergency summit on Wednesday (January 28), World Health Organization (WHO) labs were working to formulate a vaccine against the virus.

The H5N1 virus kills chicken eggs, the normal medium for growing flu vaccine viruses, so the WHO laboratories are using reverse genetics to lower the pathogenicity of the virus to chickens and to get a high yield in the egg cultures, said Klaus Stöhr, project leader of the influenza surveillance and scientific groups for the H5N1 outbreak team. Reverse genetics also...

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