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Researchers may have key to vaccines for SARS, avian flu

The genes of a common poultry virus may hold the key to giving humans immunity to diseases such as avian influenza and severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS).

University of Maryland, College Park researchers have received a $4.1 million dollar National Institutes of Health contract to continue research on a vaccine that, in early NIH trials, successfully immunized monkeys against SARS and human parainfluenza viruses. Their future research will include a vaccine for the avian influenza H5N1 and other human viruses for which vaccines are currently not available.

The scientists, at the Virginia-Maryland Regional College of Veterinary Medicine (VMRCVM) in College Park, engineered a recombinant Newcastle Disease virus (NDV), an avian paramyxovirus, to create a vaccine that holds promise to protect humans against multiple diseases.

"The Newcastle Disease virus makes a very good vector for creating human vaccines," says Siba Samal, the research team leader and associate dean of the VMRCVM at Maryland. "NDV replicates in species other than poultry, but not enough to cause disease. Also, there are nine types of paramyxoviruses and NDV is Serotype 1, so we can make similar vaccine vectors with other avian paramyxovirus types, which can be used to protect against more than one disease."

See the University of Maryland Website for more information on the SARS and AI vaccine research.

Editor WorldPoultry

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