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South African Journal of Science

On-line version ISSN 1996-7489
Print version ISSN 0038-2353


MORTIMER, Elizabeth et al. An H5N1 influenza DNA vaccine for South Africa. S. Afr. j. sci. [online]. 2013, vol.109, n.9-10, pp.01-04. ISSN 1996-7489.

The highly pathogenic avian influenza virus H5N1 is a potent pandemic threat because of its frequent transmission from birds to humans and the increasing possibility of human to human transmission. During the 2009 H1N1 pandemic it was clear that rapid influenza vaccine production is a problem worldwide. Additionally, developing countries like South Africa generally cannot produce their own influenza vaccines because the traditional egg-based vaccine production method currently employed is too lengthy and too difficult to establish. As part of an exercise aimed at exploring the feasibility of producing emergency response influenza vaccines, we investigated an experimental DNA vaccine to the H5N1 influenza virus. We focused on the virion haemagglutinin, because it elicits the primary neutralising immune response following infection. Accordingly, we developed an H5N1 DNA vaccine with full-length and truncated versions of the haemagglutinin gene, to match previously developed protein candidates. Vaccinated mice developed a strong antibody response to the haemagglutinin protein. In addition, the full-length H5 gene elicited high haemagglutination inhibition titres in mice, indicating that it has potential as a candidate pandemic vaccine for South Africa.

Keywords : DNA vaccine; highly pathogenic avian influenza virus; H5N1; haemagglutinin.

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