Live attenuated replication-defective influenza vaccine
Time of action: FLUVACC started in September
2005 and is scheduled to end in August 2009
EU budget (funding): € 9.2 million
Industrial production of influenza vaccine still relies on
18th century techniques. Essentially, chicken eggs are used
as mini vaccine factories. They are injected with live influenza
virus and incubated for several days so the virus can multiply.
The egg is then opened, the virus harvested, purified and
inactivated. Unfortunately, highly pathogenic avian viruses
do not grow well in eggs as they tend to kill the cells instead.
There are many other problems associated with egg-based production.
The whole process is time intensive and hard to scale up so
that during a pandemic it may be difficult for supply to meet
demand. In addition, the combination of vaccine with egg proteins
can also lead to allergic reactions in some people.
The FLUVACC aims to shift vaccine production away from the
traditional methods by generation of live attenuated-replication
deficient vaccines that can be produced in cell culture. Instead
of using egg-produced, viral proteins, live attenuated vaccines
contain whole replication deficient viruses that generate
a strong immune response, but are non-pathogenic.
FLUVACC has improved the core technology for live attenuated
vaccine production, using a technique called reverse genetics.
One of the project partners, Green Hills Biotechnology, has
already developed a ‘master strain’ that is missing
a gene which is essential for viral replication. Candidate
vaccines for emerging influenza subtypes can be quickly produced
by inserting their genes into this vector so that they express
the immunogenic surface proteins, but remain replication-deficient.
This strain grows in tissue culture, rather than chicken eggs,
making it possible to scale up production easily during an
With this process in place, the FLUVACC partners have put
it to the test, using the technology to develop an intranasal
vaccine against pandemic influenza. The resulting vaccine
candidates were evaluated in chickens and ferrets, cell culture
production of the most promising candidate was scaled up,
and the live attenuated virus harvested and purified. After
toxicological evaluation, clinical studies will be performed
in healthy volunteers.
The FLUVACC project involves four SMEs and four research
Status (January 2006)
Clinical trials of the candidate vaccine are expected to begin
in Spring 2006.
Mag (FH) Franz Kalthuber
GHB – Green Hills Biotechnology
Gersthofer Str. 29-31
List of partners (listed countrywise)
AT – Green Hills Biotechnology Research Development
Trade GmbH, Vienna
DE – GPC Biotech AG, Munich
SI – Bia Separations d.o.o., Ljubljana, Slovenia
CZ – Biotest s.r.o., Konarovice
RU – Institute of Influenza
AT – Medical University of Vienna
DE – Robert Koch Institute, Berlin
AT – Weikom & Network, Vienna