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Vical bird flu vaccine successful in phase I


SAN DIEGO A phase I study by Vical has found that its vaccine against avian influenza can protect against the virus, the company announced Thursday.

The double-blind, placebo-controlled study examined 100 volunteers ages 18 to 45 who received two injections of the vaccine and found that 50 to 67 percent of patients receiving 0.5mg and 1mg doses of the vaccine had immune responses that could protect against the H5N1 strain of avian flu.

The vaccine is made from DNA derived from plasmids, small pieces of genetic material, and designed to provoke an immune response.

H5N1 originated in Asia and spread to Europe, the Middle East and Africa. Of 385 people infected, 243 have died. Experts fear it could mutate into a form transmissible between humans and cause a global pandemic that would kill millions.

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