Swine Flu Vaccine Trial Seeks Volunteers

September 1, 2009 by mimmson  
Filed under Flu Pandemic - Top News Stories

Researchers at Stanford University School of Medicine are looking for healthy adults to test a new swine flu vaccine mixed with an ingredient that could boost people’s immune response.

Adding such a chemical adjuvant to the vaccine could help stretch limited supplies by making a single dose more potent, researchers believe. That’s important in the United States, where public health officials are expecting about 45 million doses of vaccine by mid-October – far fewer than the 120 million doses that had been expected.

“An adjuvant potentially allows us to use less vaccine, so we can spread the vaccine supply among a larger number of people,” said Dr. Corry Dekker, lead investigator of the Stanford study and medical director of the Stanford-Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital Vaccine Program.

Adjuvants have been used for years in flu vaccines in Europe and in several childhood vaccines in the United States. But they’ve never been added to the seasonal flu vaccine in the United States.

That’s partly because they’ve never been needed, vaccine experts said. The United States almost always has plenty of seasonal flu vaccine to give everyone who wants it, and the vaccine has been fairly effective with most people.

“People have not felt pressed to develop better vaccines,” said David Lewis, a Stanford infectious disease expert who is not involved with Dekker’s study. “But that’s not to say you couldn’t do better by adding an adjuvant.”

Because most people have no immunity to the swine flu – a form of influenza Type A, subtype H1N1 – researchers have assumed they would need two vaccine doses to gain immunity. An adjuvant might mean people only need one dose, or that they can get smaller dosages.

It’s not clear how adjuvants help boost the immune response to a vaccine. Scientists think adjuvants may stimulate different parts of the immune system and make them more responsive to the antigen in a vaccine.

The Stanford clinical trial, which is sponsored by the National Institutes for Health, is the first to test the swine flu vaccine in the Bay Area.

Stanford will be recruiting participants for the trial during the next two weeks. Researchers hope to begin screening participants the week after Labor Day and start immunizing people the week of Sept. 14.

About 130 people will be enrolled in the study. Participants will receive two doses of vaccine, spaced three weeks apart. They will be divided into groups based on age, the size of the vaccine dose and whether or not they get a vaccine with the adjuvant. It’s a double-blind study, so neither participants nor researchers will know how much vaccine subjects receive or whether they are given an adjuvant.

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  • Winsor Pilates

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