Flu vaccine additive targets more than 1 virus

February 1, 2010

Novartis has introduced a vaccine additive that is designed to enhance immune response to various viruses.

Novartis has introduced a vaccine additive that is designed to enhance immune response to various viruses. The adjuvant, dubbed MF59 and already available as part of influenza shots used in Europe, targets the H5N1 virus in the experimental bird flu vaccine, as well as mutant viruses, according to a new FDA study published in the January 20, 2010, issue of Science Translational Medicine.

"MF59 adjuvant improves the immune response to a H5N1 vaccine by inducing qualitative and quantitative expansion of the antibody repertoires with protective potential," reported the FDA research team led by Hana Golding, PhD, FDA scientist.

Adjuvants are intended to expand the body's ability to react to a vaccine, reducing the amount of antigen necessary. To date, adjuvants, although broadly used in flu vaccines in Europe, are not commonly used in the United States despite the fact that the federal government has spent close to $700 million purchasing them.