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J Virol. 2009 May;83(10):5192-203. doi: 10.1128/JVI.02081-08. Epub 2009 Mar 11.

Nonreplicating vaccinia virus vectors expressing the H5 influenza virus hemagglutinin produced in modified Vero cells induce robust protection.

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  • 1Baxter Bioscience, Biomedical Research Center, Uferstrasse 15, A-2304 Orth/Donau, Austria.


The timely development of safe and effective vaccines against avian influenza virus of the H5N1 subtype will be of the utmost importance in the event of a pandemic. Our aim was first to develop a safe live vaccine which induces both humoral and cell-mediated immune responses against human H5N1 influenza viruses and second, since the supply of embryonated eggs for traditional influenza vaccine production may be endangered in a pandemic, an egg-independent production procedure based on a permanent cell line. In the present article, the generation of a complementing Vero cell line suitable for the production of safe poxviral vaccines is described. This cell line was used to produce a replication-deficient vaccinia virus vector H5N1 live vaccine, dVV-HA5, expressing the hemagglutinin of a virulent clade 1 H5N1 strain. This experimental vaccine was compared with a formalin-inactivated whole-virus vaccine based on the same clade and with different replicating poxvirus-vectored vaccines. Mice were immunized to assess protective immunity after high-dose challenge with the highly virulent A/Vietnam/1203/2004(H5N1) strain. A single dose of the defective live vaccine induced complete protection from lethal homologous virus challenge and also full cross-protection against clade 0 and 2 challenge viruses. Neutralizing antibody levels were comparable to those induced by the inactivated vaccine. Unlike the whole-virus vaccine, the dVV-HA5 vaccine induced substantial amounts of gamma interferon-secreting CD8 T cells. Thus, the nonreplicating recombinant vaccinia virus vectors are promising vaccine candidates that induce a broad immune response and can be produced in an egg-independent and adjuvant-independent manner in a proven vector system.

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