In late 2011, two research groups created a strain of H5N1 bird flu that could be passed from human to human, leading the World Health Organization to issue a statement that said they were “deeply concerned about the potential negative consequences” that publishing their research could cause. Some news outlets have called the new strain “engineered doomsday” and wondered whether terrorist organizations could createand distribute a similar virus.Kim saysnot to worry.
“I am very certain our vaccine can already neutralize that newly made virus,” he says. “We’re trying to get our hands on it.”
Inovio is working on vaccines that’ll protect against other strains, such as H3N2, which is seen in a newly-emerged swine flu virus. Those vaccines will becombined with the already-developed H1N1 and H5N1 vaccines to be delivered in one shot by the 2013 flu season. Researchers are taking a similar approach to HIV vaccine development, but working on the flu might be easier.