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Equine Medicine, News

Improved Equine Flu Vaccine Shows Promise

Researchers from the University of Rochester have developed a new, live equine influenza vaccine that shows promise to be safe and more protective than existing vaccines.

Dr. Luis Martinez-Sobrido, lead researcher, and associate professor of microbiology and immunology at the University of Rochester Medical Center, and lead study author, Laura Rodriguez, describe the new vaccine as “live-attenuated.” This distinction is important according to the researchers, as they indicate that past studies have shown that live-attenuated vaccines (those made from live flu virus that is weakened so as to not cause the flu) provide “better immune response and longer periods of protection than vaccines that include inactivated or killed flu virus.”

Administered as a nasal spray, the vaccine was the byproduct of a genetic engineering technique known as reserve genetics. The researchers described this process, saying, “the new live-attenuated equine vaccine is designed to replicate and generate an immune response in the nose, where the flu virus first enters a horse’s body, but not in the lungs, where replication of the virus can cause disease.” In this way, the virus is stopped at its point of entry, preventing it from infecting the horse’s respiratory system.

Initial testing of the vaccine yielded positive results, as one spray protected six horses against the H3N8 virus. With the horses showing no signs of negative side effects, the study was considered a success.

A larger study is currently being planned. For more information on the development of this new vaccine, please click here.