Remember the word “recombinant” as it relates to flu vaccines for those over 50 years old.
The definition of the term is a little “medical,” but progress in the research for a better flu vaccine to protect that age group is definitely worth cheering on. The current flu vaccine confers only 36% to 80% protection.
This new DNA technology, as recently reported in The New England Journal of Medicine, was successfully used by the researchers to vaccinate with only the viral marker protein, instead of the whole virus. The patients receiving the “recombinant” vaccine had better antibody response – and fewer cases of influenza – than the patients receiving the standard vaccine.
Flu vaccines currently are produced by growing the virus in eggs, inactivating it and using it to vaccinate. Recombinant DNA technology involves inserting the DNA encoding only for the viral marker protein into a bacterial cell and allowing the bacteria to produce the marker. This gets purified and used to vaccinate.