FDA accepts insect-cell flu vaccine

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration recently announced that it has granted its approval for an insect-based flu vaccine for adults.

FluBlok, produced by Protein Sciences Corp., differs from the current seasonal flu vaccine because it is not grown in eggs. It can be grown more rapidly than current vaccines because it is not dependent on an egg supply or on the availability of the influenza virus, according to the Huffington Post.

The process used to make FluBlok also makes it different from conventional vaccines because it relies on insect cells. The production of FluBlok involves programming insect cells grown in steel tanks to produce large amounts of hemagglutinin, a flu virus protein.

The vaccine, which does not contain preservatives like thimerosal, is designed to protect against the same strains as the current trivalent seasonal vaccine. A small amount of FluBlok should be made available in winter 2013. The FDA has noted that the timing of its approval has nothing to do with current concerns over the seriousness of the current influenza season, Huffington Post reports.

Protein Sciences Corp. said that the vaccine will be available in large quantities for the 2013-2014 flu season. FluBlok was found to be 44.6 percent effective against all flu strains.

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