An H7N9 avian influenza vaccine developed by a research and development team co-led by Adimmune Corp and Taipei Veteran’s General Hospital entered the animal testing stage last month and is expected to enter the second phase of clinical trials in January next year.
The research has been subsidized by the Ministry of Health and Welfare with NT$34.5 million (US$1.16 million) and the team aims to obtain the vaccine’s license and have it hit the market by the end of next year.
The corporation said that although warmer summer weather has helped contain the spread of the H7N9 virus, an infection had still been reported in Hebei, China, as recently as July.
A Chinese research team published its finding in July that the H7N9 virus may be capable of human-to-human transmission via airborne droplets from the respiratory tract, if the virus mutates after entering the human body.
Another research report authored by China’s Jiangsu Province’s Center for Disease Control and Prevention and published in the British Medical Journal last month reported the first likely case of limited person-to-person transmission of the H7N9 bird flu virus.
The report shows an almost 100 percent genetic similarity between the viruses isolated from each of the two patients in the suspected family cluster case, involving a 60-year-old man infected with H7N9 at a live poultry market and his daughter, who had been providing prolonged bedside care for her father.
The two isolates are both of avian origin and capable of binding lower pulmonary epithelial cells.
In the event of an outbreak occurring in the autumn or winter, the Adimmune Corp said it would follow the ministry’s policy and mass-produce the vaccine immediately.
The Adimmune Corp added that it will also be starting the second phase of clinical trials for the enterovirus 71 vaccine, and the third and final phase is expected to be completed in 2017, after which mass production will be possible once the license is obtained.