The team at the University of Pittsburgh managed to genetically engineer vaccine that completely protected chickens from the deadly H5N1 virus that has killed millions of birds and around 80 people worldwide. The most fascinated thing is that it took them only 30 days to do so.

Influenza vaccines made so far were grown in chicken eggs and took months to make. The new approach was a cell-based production, which means that the vaccine is grown in batches of human cells grown in the lab instead of in eggs.

The scientists used a genetic sequence data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and not the actual H5N1 virus. They artificially made the DNA coding for the hemagglutinin gene and spliced this artificial DNA into a human adenovirus.

Tests in chickens showed 100 % protection against H5N1 when injected but only partial protection when given nasally. The vaccine produced a dual immunological response. This means that the vaccine made the bodies produce both antibodies to neutralize the virus and T-cells that also attack viruses. This finding makes the scientists believe that the virus would work against the mutated versions of the flu virus as well.

The team at the University of Pittsburgh is waiting for the green light from the FDA to start the trial on humans.