A Bay Area lab is Ground Zero for detecting the swine flu and a San Francisco company could be key in creating a vaccine for the fast-spreading virus.
Usually, all testing is done at the Centers for Disease Control headquarters in Atlanta but sending samples across the country would slow down the process. The Richmond lab will get chemical agents that will give them a way to test for the previously unknown flu strain.
The other factor in the outbreak of the swine flu is the speed at which it spreads, so a vaccine if essential in keeping the bug contained. A San Francisco lab says they could have a vaccine ready for animal testing in as little as four weeks.
Vaxart researchers, who are also working on oral vaccines for bird flu and regular flu, use technology that gets them around having to grow flu virus in a lab, which can be a time-consuming part of vaccine development.
Sean Tucker, with Vaxart Inc., says time is of the essence.
"The only thing that's slowing us down is regulatory hurdles, which are there for a reason." Tucker said. "But if there's a pandemic, I would expect that those regulartory hurdles might disappear quickly."