Swine Flu Vaccine Could Come From SF Lab

Bay Area research essential in detecting, treating

Tuesday, Apr 28, 2009  |  Updated 8:18 AM PDT
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Bay Area Key in Swine Flu Research

Scientists at Vaxart in San Francisco say they could have a vaccine ready for animal testing in about a month.

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Bay Area Key in Swine Flu Research

As the swine flu spreads across the country, the Bay Area is proving essential in the research of the new deadly virus strain.
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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.

The California Department of Public Health labs in Richmond is the place in California for swine flu testing.

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."

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