Winter's coming, along with warnings that new cases of H7N9 bird flu in China warrant a global pandemic alert. While the most recent pandemic alarms have fizzled out without any major outbreaks of a lethal virus, the federal government has been supporting work on new vaccine technologies.
Massachusetts-based biotech Visterra is preparing to move its universal influenza therapy into the clinic.
Cambridge, MA-based Visterra has finished assembling its preclinical puzzle for a universal influenza therapy, reviewing how its lead engineered antibody thwarted a pair of lethal viruses--still raising alarms around the world--in a mouse study.
Stockpiling vaccines requires authorities to peek into the future. When H1N1 was causing panic in 2009, the U.S. predicted it would need 160 million vaccine doses. But demand never took off, and the U.S. destroyed 40 million out-of-date vaccines in 2010.
The history of science is filled with seemingly random events that led to breakthroughs. Now it might have another. A meeting with Bill Gates has inspired a pandemic flu gene therapy.
The World Health Assembly met last week with the backdrop of worries about pandemic viruses. In Saudi Arabia the coronavirus death toll is rising, and H7N9 is active in China. The outbreaks--and the global response--put the pandemic influenza preparedness (PIP) framework in the spotlight.
In pandemic flu preparation, a lot of focus is placed on protecting against the specific viral strain. Yet analysis of the 1918 pandemic shows secondary bacterial pneumonia directly caused many of the deaths. This brings Pfizer's Prevnar 13 into play, and the Big Pharma is talking up its role.
The agenda for the mammalian synthetic biology workshop held at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology last weekend demonstrates that renewed interest in vaccines has opened up new therapeutic targets, which in turn has driven new approaches to manufacturing. And the threats of pandemic flu and bioterrorism have acted as an extra innovation driver.
The arms race analogy for vaccines is rarely more apt than during a pandemic flu outbreak. Last week the U.S. touted a new, more streamlined approach to vaccine development. This week the virus raised the stakes with a surge of new cases that suggest it is adapting to human hosts.
Where is this year's flu outbreak? In the wake of the H1N1 drama of a couple of years back, the virus seems to be laying low in the U.S. this season. But don't let your guard down: Flu...