Influenza vaccines can now be produced on a large scale using mammalian cell culture rather than the traditional technique of using embryonated chicken eggs, according to the recent study published in the journal, Vaccine. This means easy scale up of vaccine production, lesser risk of allergies and improved global supply in the event of an outbreak. Influenza viruses cause substantial threats to human health and vaccination is still the most effective way to control its spread. Till now attempts to use mammalian cell culture as vaccine-producing substrates have proved unsuccessful, due to the inability of the virus to grow in cell culture.
However, a team of researchers led by Dr. Xu Ke from the Institut Pasteur of Shanghai have generated a novel high-growth PR8 donor strain for influenza vaccine production after 20 continuous passages. Mutation of certain key viral genes(NP, PB1, PA and NS1) caused the virus to adapt and multiply in cell culture, thereby allowing scale up for vaccine production. Also the pathogenicity of the PR8 virus strain remained unaltered, be it in cell culture or mice or chicken embryo.
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