Britain conducts first swine-flu vaccine trials
20 August 2009
Britain’s first swine flu vaccine trials are taking place at the
Leicester Royal Infirmary using 175 volunteers. The research is led by
the University of Leicester and University Hospitals of Leicester NHS
Dr Iain Stephenson, a consultant in infectious diseases at the
hospital and clinical senior lecturer at the University, is working with
175 volunteers aged 18-50 as part of research to develop a vaccine
against the virus.
The volunteers were recruited in the last week of July and blood
samples are now being taken to detect how much immunity the drug gives.
Earlier research by Dr Stephenson and colleagues already established
that two doses of the vaccine would be needed to build up immunity.
Results from the trials are expected in September.
Dr Stephenson, of the Department of Infection, Immunity and
Inflammation at the University of Leicester, said: “The aim is to find
out how many doses and what type of vaccine is needed to give
protection. This will help with planning the vaccine campaign across the
“It is almost certain two doses of vaccine will be needed. Unlike
seasonal flu, where people’s bodies are partly primed to fight the
virus, swine flu is a new infection none of us has met before. The
vaccinations during the trails are being given between one-three weeks
“Because of this your body needs a priming dose and then a boosting
dose. The lower the dose the more of the vaccine can be shared among the
population. The trial will also help determine how far apart the
injections need to be given.”
Earlier this year, in his paper published in Proceedings of the
National Academy of Sciences, Dr Stephenson made the first case for
a pre-pandemic vaccine to mitigate the worst effects of pandemic flu.
He said: “This study is the first to show an effective pre-pandemic
vaccine approach. This means that we could vaccinate people potentially
many years before a pandemic, to generate memory cells that are long
lasting and can be rapidly boosted by a single dose of vaccine when
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