ALLERGY, RESPIRATORY
Folic Acid Might Offer Allergy Relief
Combating Myths About Seasonal Allergies
Obesity May Raise Kids' Allergy Risk
ALTERNATIVE MEDICINE
No Verdict Yet on Grape Seed Extract vs. Breast Cancer
38% of U.S. Adults Use Alternative Treatments
Acupuncture Eases Breast Cancer Treatment Side Effects
ANIMAL CARE
Rest Easy. When It Comes to Swine Flu, Your Pet Is Safe
Separation Anxiety, Canine-Style
Beware of Dog Bites
BONES & JOINTS
Alleviating Rheumatoid Arthritis
Many Americans Fall Short on Their Vitamin D
Tips to Ease an Aching Back
CANCER
Selenium, Omega-3s May Stave Off Colorectal Cancer
Immune Therapy May Aid Kids With Neuroblastoma
Smokeout '08: The Perfect Time to Quit
CAREGIVING
Children's Bath Products Contain Contaminants
TV Watching Doesn't Fast-Track Baby's Skills
Newborn Screenings Now Required Across U.S.
CIRCULATORY SYSTEM
Review Confirms Links Between Diet, Heart Health
Mercury in Fish Linked to High Blood Pressure
A Brisk Pace May Keep Stroke at Bay
COSMETIC
What to Do If You Have Unsightly Veins
Wrinkle Fillers Need Better Label Warnings: FDA Panel
New Genetic Links to Baldness Discovered
DENTAL, ORAL
Mom's Vitamin D Levels Affect Baby's Dental Health
Gum Disease Treatment Doesn't Cut Preterm Birth Risk
Acid Drinks Blamed for Increase in Tooth Erosion
DIABETES
Laughter May Lower Heart Attack Risk in Diabetics
Findings Challenge Tight Glucose Control for Critically Ill Patients
Poor Blood Sugar Control After Heart Surgery Impacts Outcomes
DIET, NUTRITION
Coffee Drinkers Might Live Longer
Oregano Shown to be the Most Powerful Culinary Herb
Occaisonal Dieting May Cut Breast Cancer, Study Says
DISABILITIES
Review Finds Marijuana May Help MS Patients
Could Your Cell Phone Help Shield You From Alzheimer's?
ENVIRONMENTAL HEALTH
Fertilizer Ban Makes a Difference
Greener Neighborhoods Mean Slimmer Children
Pesticides on Produce Tied to ADHD in Children
EYE CARE, VISION
Stem Cells Repair Damaged Corneas in Mice
Action-Filled Video Games Boost Adult Vision
Nutrient-Rich Diet Lowers Risk of Age-Related Eye Disease
FITNESS
Fitness Fades Fast After 45
Almost Two-Thirds of Americans Meet Exercise Guidelines
Tai Chi and Qigong Offer Many Health Benefits: Review
GASTROINTESTINAL PROBLEMS
Bowel Prep Harder on Women Than Men
Peppermint Oil, Fiber Can Fight Irritable Bowel
Japanese Herbals May Ease Gastro Woes
GENERAL HEALTH
Lack of Vitamin D Linked to High Blood Pressure
Reminiscing Helps Build Emotional Strength
Eating More Soy May Be Good For Your Lung Function
HEAD & NECK
Many Children Will Outgrow Headaches
Zen May Thicken Brain, Thwart Pain
Ski Helmets Encouraged for All
HEALTH & TECHNOLOGY
E-Mailing Your Way to Healthier Habits
Magnet Therapy May Ease Hard-to-Treat Depression
Combating Myths About Seasonal Allergies
HEARING
Noise Hurts Men's Hearing More, Study Shows
Summer Sounds Can Lead to Hearing Loss
HEART & CARDIOVASCULAR
Walk Long, Slow and Often to Help the Heart
Whole Grains Lower Risk of Heart Failure
Relaxation Tapes or Mozart Lower Blood Pressure
INFECTIOUS DISEASE
More Medicinal Uses for Pomegranate
Swine Flu Loves a Crowd
Viral Infection Might Trigger High Blood Pressure
INFERTILITY
Obesity May Affect Fertility in Young Womene
KID'S HEALTH
Heart Defects in Newborns Linked to Antidepressants
Teens Lose More Weight Using Healthy Strategies
Better Sleep, Grades Seem to Go Up
MEN'S HEALTH
Lots of Sex May Prevent Erectile Dysfunction
Low Iron Levels Cut Cancer Risk in Men With PAD
Low Vitamin D Levels May Boost Men's Heart Attack Risk
MENTAL HEALTH
Heal Your Life® Tips for Living Well
Drink Away Dementia?
Chocolate a Sweet Pick-Me-Up for the Depressed
PAIN
'Cell Phone Elbow' -- A New Ill for the Wired Age
Acupuncture, Real or Fake, Eases Back Pain
Alleviating Rheumatoid Arthritis
PHYSICAL THERAPY
PREGNANCY
Calcium Supplements Cut Blood Lead Levels During Pregnancy
Before Conceiving, Take Folic Acid for One Full Year
Breast-Feeding Benefits Moms and Babies
SENIORS
High-Impact Activity May Be Good for Old Bones
Daily dose of beet juice promotes brain health in older adults
Save Your Aging Brain, Try Surfing The Web
SEXUAL HEALTH
SLEEP DISORDERS
Exercising Throat Muscles May Relieve Sleep Apnea
Moderate Aerobics May Ease Insomnia Symptoms
Sleeping Could Help Women Lose The Baby Fat
WOMEN'S HEALTH
Spice Compounds May Stem Tumor Growth
Broccoli May Help Battle Breast Cancer
Frankincense Provides Relief for Osteoarthritis
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New Methods Could Speed Production of Flu Vaccines

MONDAY, May 18 (HealthDay News) -- Vaccines made up of virus-like particles (VLPs) could provide stronger and longer-lasting protection against flu viruses than conventional vaccines, researchers say.

Even better, VLP vaccines, which can be grown in cell cultures or plants, can be developed and produced twice as quickly as conventional vaccines, according to research presented May 18 at the 109th General Meeting of the American Society for Microbiology, in Philadelphia.

In early clinical trials, VLP vaccines appear to provide complete protection against both the H5N1 avian influenza virus and the 1918 Spanish influenza virus, said Ted Ross, an assistant professor at the University of Pittsburgh's Center for Vaccine Research.

Adopting the new vaccine strategy may allow public health officials to respond more quickly to emerging influenza pandemics, according to a news release from the American Society for Microbiology.

"The sequence for the recent H1N1 'swine flu' virus was online and available to scientists long before physical samples could be delivered," Ross said in the news release. "It would have been possible to produce VLPs in quantity in as little as 12 weeks, while conventional vaccines require physical samples of the virus, and production can take approximately nine months."

Even without an actual sample of the agent, researchers can generate particles for a vaccine if the genes in the virus have been identified, Ross added.

Injectable vaccines that are currently in use to protect from the seasonal flu consist of three influenza strains that are grown in eggs and then inactivated using chemicals that break the virus up into pieces, according to background information provided in the news release. But because the pieces no longer look like the circulating virus, conventionally produced vaccines do not elicit as strong an immune response as VLPs.

"Virus-like particles look just like a live virus, but they are hollow shells without a genome inside, and they cannot reproduce," Ross said. "Because they look like the virus, they evoke a more robust immune response against the real thing."

Inhaled, mist-based flu vaccines can also elicit a strong immune response, but they are associated with an increased risk of side effects, because they are made with live, attenuated virus, the release noted.

Still, there is disagreement over who should be vaccinated and for what flu viruses, Ross said.

"There is a debate in the influenza community about priming the human population for potential pandemic strains such as H5N1 or 1918," Ross said. "Some researchers advocate adding these strains to the annual flu vaccine. They might not match the next pandemic flu strain exactly, but could provide some protection."

Others contend that it's premature and too costly to vaccinate people against a virus that may never emerge, he said.

More information

The CDC has more on flu vaccines.



-- Jennifer Thomas



SOURCE: American Society for Microbiology, news release, May 18, 2009

Last Updated: May 18, 2009

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