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Quick custom flu vaccines

Technique used to craft new H5N1 vaccine could speed development for all new strains.

Tabitha Powledge(tam@nasw.org)

A genetic technique that accelerates development of vaccines against some emerging viruses has resulted in an experimental vaccine designed to fight a new form of avian influenza that killed at least one person in Hong Kong in February. Researchers at St. Jude Children's Research Hospital in Memphis, Tennessee, say their approach, based on reverse genetics, means much speedier creation of influenza vaccines. Other researchers agree, and expect that eventually the method can be applied to additional diseases.

SARS, however, is probably not one of them because the genome of its suspected agent, a novel coronavirus, is far too big. The National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease announced Friday that it had begun working on a SARS vaccine, but director Anthony Fauci warned the effort would take at least a year or more.

"The particular system we used was one developed here at St. Jude, the so-called eight-plasmid reverse...

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