One of the problem with influenza vaccine production (as well as some other vaccines) is that the vaccine is made by injecting into chicken eggs–infecting chicken embryos–and then harvesting and killing the virus for use in the vaccine. This is a very time-consuming process that takes months. A holy grail of influenza vaccine production has been a cell-culture based production method, since this would allow much faster production of virus (and thus vaccine).
It sounds like this will soon become reality:
Novartis said it won approval in Germany for a swine flu vaccine that’s made in cell cultures, rather than in chicken eggs. That’s pretty significant, because most vaccines (including those for swine flu) are grown in eggs, a decades-old technique that can’t be scaled up very quickly (you need millions of eggs). Novartis is already licensed to sell a seasonal flu vaccine grown in cell culture.
The vaccine will be manufactured at a plant in Germany, though Novartis is also close to completing a cell-culture vaccine plant in the U.S., Dow Jones Newswires notes.
It won’t be ready in time to deal with TEH SWINEY FLOO!!, but this is great news, nonetheless.