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Biologicals. 1997 Dec;25(4):403-14.

Assessing the significance of reverse transcriptase activity in chick cell-derived vaccines.

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National Institute of Biologist Standards and Control, Potters Bar, Herts, UK.


A recent publication reported the detection of low levels of the enzyme reverse transcriptase (RTase) in live viral vaccines prepared in chick embryo cells. The enzyme was detected using an assay with greatly increased sensitivity compared to more conventional methods. The authors have confirmed the observation of RTase activity and demonstrate that the activity is not dependent on the production of viral vaccines in chick cells but is present ubiquitously in chick embryonic fluids. The authors have also been unable to transmit the RTase activity from chick cells to a wide variety of cells of human, monkey, rabbit and turkey origin, suggesting that the activity is not associated with an avian agent capable of infecting these cells. It is concluded that the data available present no cause for concern over the safety of vaccines derived in chick cells and current WHO requirements for such vaccines remain appropriate.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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