Flu vaccines are like the medical equivalent of the Wii. Everyone wants one, but it’s so hard to find it in stock. Well, hopefully caterpillars can help alleviate a bit of the problem. Synthesizing the vaccine using caterpillars instead of hen eggs shaves a valuable month off of the production time and is safe for those with egg allergies. Here’s a little more from the AP:
The current method takes about nine months each year. It relies on hens laying millions of eggs. Live flu viruses injected into the eggs multiply, then the eggshells are broken, the viruses are inactivated and are treated to create vaccine.
The experimental method uses fall army worms, abundant caterpillars that are vulnerable to a bug virus. Scientists replace a gene from that virus with a flu virus gene, then inject it into the worm, where it makes more flu virus.
The process takes about a month less than the egg method and doesn’t involve using live flu virus, which can infect workers during the production process, Treanor said.
The study is important and suggests that the insect method is “a technology that’s worth pursuing,” said Dr. Tom Talbot, a Vanderbilt University vaccine expert who was not involved in the study.
Hopefully no one is allergic to bugs.
Read more here…