WASHINGTON -- Combination vaccines that could point the way to a more efficient and cost- effective means of battling bird flu have been created by separate teams of researchers.
Scientists in the United States and Germany reported on methods of combining vaccines for flu and Newcastle disease. Their findings are being published in today's issue of Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
The highly pathogenic H5N1 avian flu has raised concerns, with millions of birds killed in Asia and elsewhere. More than 120 people have died.
Scientists worry that the virus will evolve into a form that can be easily spread among people, leading to a worldwide epidemic.
The Agriculture Department reports it has a stockpile of bird flu vaccine for poultry and vaccines for people are in production.
Newcastle disease affects poultry and is currently avoided by routine vaccination.
The two teams of researchers were able to engineer combination vaccines to protect against both bird flu and Newcastle disease.
In its experiment, the American team led by Peter Palese of the Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York developed a combined vaccine with Newcastle disease and the H7N7 flu virus, which protected the poultry from Newcastle disease and was 90 percent effective against the flu.
The second group, led by Angela Roemer-Oberdoerfer of the Federal Research Institute for Animal Health in Germany, combined the Newcastle vaccine with the H5N2 influenza to produce a combination vaccine that protected chickens that were later given potentially deadly doses of either virus.