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Dynavax Upbeat on Flu Vaccine

The company says its experimental product can improve the effects of a standard vaccine when the two are given together.

Vaccine developer

Dynavax Technologies

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says, based on early data, that its experimental flu vaccine can improve the effects of a standard vaccine when the two are given together.

In studies conducted in mice given the vaccine plus Fluzone from

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Sanofi-Aventis'

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, the addition of Dynavax's treatment led to a significantly higher antibody response. In primates, the vaccines given together also enhanced Fluzone-specific antibody responses.

Standard flu vaccines provide protection against viral infection by generating neutralizing antibodies against viral surface proteins, said Dr. Gary Van Nest, vice president of preclinical research at Dynavax.

"The Dynavax universal flu vaccine not only enhances the virus-blocking, or neutralizing, effects of the co-administered standard flu vaccine, but also kills virus-infected cells and prevents virus spread that can lead to pneumonia and other often fatal sequelae, in a manner that is not strain-dependent," he said in a press release.

The trials were funded in part by a $3 million research and development grant for a pandemic influenza vaccine from the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease at the National Institutes of Health. The company says it expects to move forward quickly with a commercial product.