Go to contents

H5N1 Human Vaccine Developed in Korea

Posted October. 11, 2008 00:08,   


Korean researchers have developed a human vaccine for the highly pathogenic avian influenza (H5N1) virus.

Chungnam National University professor Suh Sang-hee said yesterday that his research team produced a human vaccine against the highly pathogenic bird flu strain by genetic recombination of H5N1 viruses transmitted to humans.

The team confirmed the vaccine’s effectiveness through ferrets that show the same symptoms as humans contracting flu viruses.

The vaccine is the first of its kind in Korea and the fourth in the world after the United States, the United Kingdom and Japan, said Suh.

Suh named the vaccine "CNUK-H5N1-08-01" and reported it to the government. He will present a thesis on the breakthrough in a symposium at the Korea Military Academy Friday.

His team in May became the first in Korea to obtain permission from the World Health Organization and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for dealing with human-infecting avian influenza germ cell lines. After gaining government approval for a biosafety level 3 to allow animal experiments, the team started vaccine development in July.

The vaccine is expected to protect the public from a “super flu” pandemic.

Super flu occurs when H5N1 transmitted from birds mutates in a human body and becomes capable of infecting other humans. The 1968 Hong Kong flu killed more than one million people worldwide, the 1957 Asian flu two million, and the 1918 Spanish flu 50 million.

According to Suh, the efficiency of Tamiflu, an oral anti-viral drug used to treat influenza imported by domestic pharmaceutical companies, is unknown against a "super flu" outbreak. In addition, Tamiflu-resistant strains of H5N1 have emerged in Southeast Asia.

With the breakthrough, Korea can immediately produce vaccines with germ cells if the super flu breaks out. DNA sequences of super flu can vary, so stockpiled vaccines are 70 to 80 percent effective.