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J Virol. 2009 Aug;83(15):7770-8. doi: 10.1128/JVI.00241-09. Epub 2009 May 20.

Evaluation of vaccines for H5N1 influenza virus in ferrets reveals the potential for protective single-shot immunization.

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  • 1Australian Animal Health Laboratory, Geelong, Victoria, Australia.


As part of influenza pandemic preparedness, policy decisions need to be made about how best to utilize vaccines once they are manufactured. Since H5N1 avian influenza virus has the potential to initiate the next human pandemic, isolates of this subtype have been used for the production and testing of prepandemic vaccines. Clinical trials of such vaccines indicate that two injections of preparations containing adjuvant will be required to induce protective immunity. However, this is a working assumption based on classical serological measures only. Examined here are the dose of viral hemagglutinin (HA) and the number of inoculations required for two different H5N1 vaccines to achieve protection in ferrets after lethal H5N1 challenge. Ferrets inoculated twice with 30 microg of A/Vietnam/1194/2004 HA vaccine with AlPO4, or with doses as low as 3.8 microg of HA with Iscomatrix (ISCOMATRIX, referred to as Iscomatrix herein, is a registered trademark of CSL Limited) adjuvant, were completely protected against death and disease after H5N1 challenge, and the protection lasted at least 15 months. Cross-clade protection was also observed with both vaccines. Significantly, complete protection against death could be achieved with only a single inoculation of H5N1 vaccine containing as little as 15 microg of HA with AlPO4 or 3.8 microg of HA with Iscomatrix adjuvant. Ferrets vaccinated with the single-injection Iscomatrix vaccines showed fewer clinical manifestations of infection than those given AlPO4 vaccines and remained highly active. Our data provide the first indication that in the event of a future influenza pandemic, effective mass vaccination may be achievable with a low-dose "single-shot" vaccine and provide not only increased survival but also significant reduction in disease severity.

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