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Vaccines and Correlates of Protection

Development of Influenza del NS1 Virus as a Vector For Foreign Antigens

EC contribution
: € 1 384 945
: 30 months
Starting date
: 01/11/2004
: SMEs - Co-operative
: Influenza, avian, vaccine, adjuvant, chimeric
Project Number
: COOP-CT-2004-512864


The project CHIMERIC VACCINES is being carried out by an international consortium over a 30-month period. The consortium aims at developing a novel vaccine that will provide protection against avian influenza and seasonal influenza. The technical basis is a replication deficient influenza virus that was modified to express foreign antigens.

CHIMERIC VACCINES is led by the Austrian SME Green Hills Biotechnology and consists of three partner companies in Austria, Slovenia and the Czech Republic and two renowned university partners in Austria and Germany. In order to bring these vaccines to clinical use, one of the partners is the Russian WHO reference laboratory for influenza in St Petersburg, which has abundant experience in testing new vaccines.


Avian influenza is an infectious disease of birds caused by type A strains of the influenza virus. The disease occurs worldwide. While all birds are thought to be susceptible to infection with avian influenza viruses, many wild bird species carry these viruses with no apparent signs of harm. A highly pathogenic form was first identified in Italy in 1878 and can lead to a mortality rate in infected animals of 100% within 48 hours.

Influenza viruses are species-specific and only rarely cause infection in other species. Since 1959, instances of human infection with an avian influenza virus have been documented on only 10 occasions. Of the hundreds of strains of avian influenza A viruses, only four are known to have caused human infections: H5N1, H7N3, H7N7 and H9N2. In general, human infection with these viruses has resulted in mild symptoms and very little severe illness, with one notable exception - the highly pathogenic H5N1 virus.

Currently, the H5N1 virus is of greatest significance as it has crossed the species barrier to infect humans on at least three occasions in recent years leading to the current outbreaks that began in December 2003. Currently, no vaccine against avian influenza is available.

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