Influenza vaccines: recent advances in production technologies
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In spite of ongoing annual vaccination programs, the seasonal influenza epidemics remain a major cause of high morbidity and mortality. The currently used “inactivated” vaccines provide very short-term and highly specific humoral immunity due to the frequent antigenic variations in the influenza virion. These intra-muscularly administered vaccines also fail to induce protective mucosal immunity at the portal of viral entry and destruction of the virally infected cells by induction of cytotoxic T lymphocytes. Therefore, it is necessary to develop immunologically superior vaccines. This article highlights some of the recent developments in investigational influenza vaccines. The most notable recent developments of interest include the use of immunopotentiators, development of DNA vaccines, use of reverse genetics, and the feasibility of mammalian cell-based production processes. Presently, due to their safety and efficacy, the cold-adapted “live attenuated” vaccines are seen as viable alternatives to the “inactivated vaccines”. The DNA vaccines are gaining importance due to the induction of broad-spectrum immunity. In addition, recent advances in recombinant technologies have shown the possibility of constructing pre-made libraries of vaccine strains, so that adequately preparations can be made for epidemics and pandemics.