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Rochester Residents Help Protect the Nation Against Flu


Rochester residents as well as vaccine experts at the University of Rochester Medical Center played a key role in testing a flu vaccine that was approved yesterday by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. The availability of an additional vaccine, the fifth now approved to prevent the flu, is welcome news to a nation that has been beset by vaccine shortage woes in recent years.

The vaccine, FluLaval, is made by GlaxoSmithKline and was originally developed by ID Medical Corp., which was purchased by GSK last year.

In Rochester last year, 70 people age 50 and older took part in a study to test the vaccine, getting a needle poke as part of the effort to make sure the vaccine, already used in Canada, is safe and effective. Rochester was one of 12 sites in a study that enrolled about 1,200 people around the nation. The study was done by nurses and doctors in the Universityís Vaccine and Treatment Evaluation Unit, or VTEU, one of a network of seven centers funded by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases to test vaccines against infectious diseases. The Rochester VTEU is headed by John Treanor, M.D., professor of medicine.

The latest work is a lot like another study done in 2004 by the VTEU to protect the nation against the flu, which kills approximately 36,000 people every year in the United States. In that study, which included 278 people in Rochester, a vaccine that had been used for years in other parts of the world was shown to be safe and effective in the United States also. Based on the results, the vaccine, also made by GlaxoSmithKline, was approved last year by the U.S. FDA, helping to ease the vaccine shortage.

The work on flu in the VTEU is in addition to current research on vaccines to prevent a spate of other diseases, including bird flu, malaria and herpes. Other diseases targeted by the groupís work have included smallpox, anthrax, whooping cough, pneumonia, cervical cancer, and the common cold.


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