“We focused on avian influenza virus subtype H5N1, which can get transmitted from chickens to humans (zoonotic strain),” said researcher Juergen Richt, Kansas State University professor of veterinary medicine, in a statement. “So far it has infected more than 700 people worldwide and has killed about 60 percent of them. Unfortunately, it has a high mortality rate.”
Richt and his colleagues developed one of the vaccines, which works against the H5N1 strain, by combining two viruses with each other. The researchers cloned the Newcastle strain, which naturally affects poultry, and blended it with a small fragment of the H5N1 virus to create a recombinant virus. This virus was proven to protect poultry from both the H5N1 and Newcastle strains.
Using a similar technique, the researchers also blended a small section of the separate H7N9 virus into the vaccine for the Newcastle disease. This also proved to be capable of protecting birds from both the Newcastle virus and the H7N9 virus. Richt added that this technique “works well for poultry,” following the successful blending of both bird flu strains with the Newcastle virus.