New Bug Based Flu Vaccine Approved By FDA

Kim Meyer

During this years flu epidemic, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has announced a new flu vaccine called Flublok, which is an insect-based vaccine.

Flublok is the first vaccine made by injecting flu genes into an insect virus and growing it in caterpillar cells.

Flublok is manufactured by Protein Sciences. The company's president and CEO, Manon Cox, said roughly 150,000 doses of the new vaccine have been produced.

Starting in mid-February, people with egg allergies, those who can't get the current flu shot, and are between the ages of 18 to 49, will be able to receive Flublok. Cox told NBC News, "We've collected names and we'll see what we can do to help."

Flublok says it is made by programming insect cells to produce large amounts of a flu virus protein called hemagglutinin in steel tanks. The FDA says most of the antibodies that fight a flu infections is directed against hemagglutinin.

Currently, vaccines are produced by isolating blood from a patient infected by the flu. Then purified and injected into chicken eggs. Flublok's new technology bypasses these steps. Flublok's quick production will help the vaccine to be made quickly if there is a pandemic.

According to CNN, Karen Midthun, director of the FDA's Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research said:

"This approval represents a technological advance in the manufacturing of an influenza vaccine. The new technology offers the potential for faster start-up of the vaccine manufacturing process in the event of a pandemic, because it is not dependent on an egg supply or on availability of the influenza virus."